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Old 12-17-2011, 02:53 PM   #1
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USPS Course Advice, Please

Hello All,

I am not new to boating, but most of my boating has been done inland, and I am new to trawlering.* I want to take a series of USPS courses, but since I am a distance from a USPS squadron, I want to take the courses on line, at least those that USPS offers through the University of West Florida.

I want to know which course that I should take first, second, etc.* It seems like taking the America's Boating Course would be a good place to start, but from there, is there a sequence, with prerequisites?* For example, is should one take Boat Handling then Advanced Boat Handling, and then Seamanship, or can you jump right in with Seamanship?

Thank you!

*
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:09 PM   #2
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

FWIW we were in a similar situation to yours exactly a year ago now. I bought a Canadian Power Squadron home study package and tried valiantly to stick to it for a couple of months. Eventually I just gave up because it was so light duty and flat out boring. I didn't think I knew a lot but if that course was any measure of my knowledge then I was selling myself seriously short. Maybe with a good instructor and some classroom interaction it would have been different but I'll be a tough sell in the future. Particularly so since we attended Trawlerfest in Anacortes last winter where I attended a USPS seminar on anchoring. Thank goodness there were some real cruisers in the room because the guy leading the seminar was a waste of time.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:14 AM   #3
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Most of what you MUST Know is the legal aspects,

Rules of the road , required equipment , radio operation, lights at night..

How to do things , fight a fire on board , change the oil or figure out where you are , and where the rocks are can also be learned from a book.

While Bowditch may be the TOME on navigation , its hardly required reading .

Weather you would rather take a course , or simply get yourself informed is your personal choice.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:53 AM   #4
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Quote:
FF wrote:
Most of what you MUST Know is the legal aspects,

Rules of the road , required equipment , radio operation, lights at night..

How to do things , fight a fire on board , change the oil or figure out where you are , and where the rocks are can also be learned from a book.

While Bowditch may be the TOME on navigation , its hardly required reading .

Weather you would rather take a course , or simply get yourself informed is your personal choice.
*Most of what is covered in the general USPS courses is pretty basic stuff. *It you really want to get into it, the real education starts with the "advanced grades". *I would sart at PILOTING and then ADVANCED PILOTING. *When completed, you should know enough to take your boat anywhere in coastal waters.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:24 AM   #5
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

After taking the basic boating class (America's Boating Course or one of the other basic classes offered) the "core" courses in their usual sequence are:

Seamanship

Piloting

Advanced Piloting

Junior Navigation

Navigation

USPS also offers a number of electives which may be taken in any sequence.* The electives are:

Marine Electronics

Engine Maintenance

Cruise Planning

Sail

Weather

Instructor Development (training for instructors)

There are also a multitude of short courses and seminars that are available at the various local squadrons or by ordering the course material from the national organization.* Their website is http://www.usps.org/.

I've been a member since 1996 and have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn and to share my experiences with others as an instructor.* I have taught the basic boating classes, Marine Electronics, Cruise Planning and a number of the short course seminars.* I have also had the honor of being the commander of our local squadron and served on our district staff.

The USPS is a great organization but, like most large national groups, the value and effectiveness depends primarily upon the local chapters.* And the local chapters are dependent upon their own volunteer members.* Instruction quality can range from dismal to extraordinary.* And, like any fraternal or service organization anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, you get what you put into the group.* Each local "chapter" will have a different personality, not unlike a local Rotary or Lions Club.

One last point, the U.S. Power Squadrons are much less military than the USCG Aux.* The Power Squadron has no patrol mission and no requirements for augmenting active duty units for search and rescue.*
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:32 AM   #6
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Just to get your feet wet, you might take a look at this free one by Boat/US

http://www.boatus.org/onlinecourse/default.asp
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:42 AM   #7
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Can I add my two cents??** Take any course you want to.* Then hire a captain to come onboard your boat to teach you how to handle your boat and your systems.* Money well spent for us!

*
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:07 AM   #8
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Bobofthenorth says it's "light duty and boring". I've been boating since I was 12 and I read the Chapman books for fun. I pick up something once and awhile and pull up something long forgotten too. I have several Chapman books and two are so old they are a bit of a history book and thus have added interest looking at the pictures ect. I'd like to have an older book yet. But to me the're not boring and probably never will be. I thought the road to Craig from Thorne Bay would soon become boring when we first moved here but it never happened. I still love to drive the road ....and to read Chapman.

ERic
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:01 AM   #9
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

I'm with Eric. And Bob.
I think you get far more out of something that is interesting. I too read Chapman's for fun, although that was so long ago I should probably do it again. I also subscribed to Sail magazine, in the 70s, when they had numerous articles on navigation, piloting, sailboat racing tactics, etc, and picked up a lot of knowledge that way. Helped that my first several boats were sailboats. Then, getting my feet wet in engine rooms was done gently, on sailboats, where if you screw up you can still get home using the sails. The move to a trawler engine room wasn't too scary by then, as I had years of practice on those smaller engines.
More recently I have run down the offerings of the CPS and found them pitched at the newby. So if you qualify as a newby they should be good, lots of graduates around to prove their popularity.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:54 PM   #10
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

I'm sure there's people who benefit from Power Squadron classes, I'm just not sure the OP fits the profile.* I read Skene's Elements when I was 12 or 13; dug out an old copy of Chapman when we moved onboard last winter.* From the OP's self-description I suspect he will be underwhelmed by the beginner levels of USPS.* BICBW
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:37 PM   #11
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Hi Mike,* It sounds like several folks would recomend you skip the USPS classes due to the large variation in instruction quality you might experience, but I think you should take all the classes you can find.* No doubt you will get more out of some classes than others, but you will get something out of all of them.* Read every boating book you can get your hands on, talk to other trawler owners, perhaps join a yacht club, but the best classroom will always be out on the water.

There is no better teacher than hands on experience.* Best of luck in your journey, and enjoy the ride.........Arctic Traveller

Trawler training and charters at www.arctictraveller.com
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:15 PM   #12
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Received 100% on the Power Squadron test for its basic course, as well as the Calfornia gun test.* The hardest part of the PS*course was paying attention to the "irrelevant" parts such as trailering.* As far as the gun test, the most restrictive interpretation will get you the correct answer.
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:59 PM   #13
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

I think Steppen and Arctic Traveller covered it pretty well. It won't hurt to learn/relearn the basics, boring as it may be, hopefully not. You will pick something up. Then go for the more advanced courses. Once into it more opportunities may open up. You may find other sources of good info in addition to the courses a lot faster than you would otherwise. I found I was in touch with other more experienced boaters a lot faster than I would have been otherwise. I realize you have to do this online but even so I think you will gain out of it.

Fill in with books also.

Have fun whichever way you go.
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:08 AM   #14
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USPS Course Advice, Please

Quote:
Arctic Traveller wrote:
Hi Mike,* It sounds like several folks would recomend you skip the USPS classes due to the large variation in instruction quality you might experience, but I think you should take all the classes you can find.* No doubt you will get more out of some classes than others, but you will get something out of all of them.* Read every boating book you can get your hands on, talk to other trawler owners, perhaps join a yacht club, but the best classroom will always be out on the water.

There is no better teacher than hands on experience.* Best of luck in your journey, and enjoy the ride.........Arctic Traveller

Trawler training and charters at www.arctictraveller.com
*Marked in red is the real key.* You never know who you are getting...especially with volunteer type situations.* Many people I have had in the boating safety course I teach for NJ safety certification walked out of Coast Guard Auxiliary training because they said the guy was so bad.

When I went through my Captains Licensing pre-qual course in 2003*(just sitting through a regular course) the instructor was horrible.* Very limited...lot's of experience with LORAN..none with GPS, SATPHONES, EPIRBs etc..etc...the guy just had limited experience and was not a great instructor to boot.

So if you can...shop around before just taking any old course...yes you MIGHT get something out of it...but based on my experiences...you may LEARN*A BOAT LOAD OF ABSOLUTE BULL!!!

At that point...if you don't get a line of courses/instructors that are good...you might be better off finding a very experienced, active professional captain with teaching credentials and paying him/her.* You could learn more in an hour from the right person that what you can get in an 18 week course from some out there..plus not worry too much from learning outdated or wrong stuff.



-- Edited by psneeld on Monday 19th of December 2011 07:10:02 AM


-- Edited by psneeld on Monday 19th of December 2011 07:12:11 AM
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:25 AM   #15
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

i alwasy say when youput the eye on the dock,you are tying the boat to the dock,but when you put the eye on the boat, then you are tying the dock to the boat??????????
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:37 AM   #16
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

When we focus on how experienced boaters should*tie the shorelines then the snoozing at the USPS begins.
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:23 AM   #17
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Jerry,

Heard that so many times........I think it's nobody's business but mine wether I tie my boat to the dock (float) or the float to the boat. Definitele fly stuff but I do like to have my eyes on the boat on my permanant slip and prefer no eyes on my cruising lines. Eyes are only there because they look more tidy than knots but knots give great flexability and when you're away from Home that's good. Haha.....What does Chapman say about that. I've already packed my boat books into boxes. Are you snoozing yet Tom?
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:39 AM   #18
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Back to courses- take lots of courses so that when you get insurance for your boat you might get a discount or have more choices of coverage. Or in some cases you might get insurance period. Many insurance companies really like to see that somone has taken the extra effort to at least have some book learning, especially if the are moving up in size or changing cruising areas.

If you put the eye on the cleat on the dock, then the extra line on the boat has to be hung so that dirt does not collect under the coiled line. When the the eye of the dockline is on board then the extra line gets dirty from the dock.
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:42 AM   #19
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

The U.S.C.G Auxilliary at one time offered classes at their local Flotilla's. Maybe check them out in your area. I took a couple in Chicago in the early 2000's. I joined the Flotilla for a while so the classes were free. I don't know if they still do that. I thought since most of the classes were taught by either regular Coasties and retiree's they were pretty good. Might be different by you. I say that all the education you can get is time and money well spent, especially when it concerns being safe and prudent.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:44 AM   #20
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RE: USPS Course Advice, Please

Haha broker guy I'll tell the fishermen here in Thorne Bay of the error in their ways. Dirty decks Ewew.*

Charles, thanks for the compliment. Most of the time I hope the're won't be someone on the float to toss a line to. Nothing but trouble unless you do'nt like the guy and then you may get license to call him all kinds of stupid. You may not agree w me on this one but I like to get my fwd (short) spring line fast to my midships cleat, put the engine in gear at idle in reverse and take my time adjusting all the rest of the lines w my bow line a bit slack. My stern spring line is fairly long. I tighten my aft spring line w the engine in reverse so the springs are quite to very tight. As for eyes I think I'll phase them out. I can have much more flexibility and almost eliminate chock wear. If one needs a loop just tie a bowline and make it any size you want. Not to offend anyone as there are lots of yachtie's here that place great importance on how slick and tidy one can be with a boat and spliced eyes are all of that. And Charles we do have lots of bull rails in the NW and basically I really like them but it's much easier to tie to a cleat than a bull rail. Getting the right amount of slack or tightness is often a problem for me and passing the line under the rail seems to work best but is awkward to do. But cleats are seldom in the right place * .....I'll take the bull rails.
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