Tampa Power Squadron Boating Courses

Five advanced grade courses and six elective courses are offered by USPS through the local squadrons. Though the advanced grade courses are designed to be taken in sequence because each builds on skills taught in the previous course, it is not a requirement. The elective courses are designed to be taken in any order, the instructor development class is intended only for USPS members who wish to become instructors.

Get Your Florida Boater Card

Boater Card

America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition is all new with a completely updated manual, outstanding graphics, and two bonus computer disks. The course manual is divided into five chapters. The first four cover the required topics that all recreational boaters must know. In addition to the rules of the road, the four chapters cover the various types of boats, required safety equipment, navigation aids, lights and sounds, anchoring, communications afloat, adverse conditions, water sports safety, trailering, personal water craft safety, and knots and lines.

Advanced Courses


Building on the basics taught in the public boating course, Seamanship is the recommended first advanced course for both power boaters and sailors. Students learn practical marlinespike (knots and lines), navigation rules, hull design and performance, responsibilities of the skipper, boat care, operating a boat under normal and abnormal conditions, what to do in various emergencies and weather conditions, nautical customs and common courtesy on the water. This course provides a strong foundation for students going on to other Advanced Grades courses and/or Cruise Planning or Sail.


Piloting is the first of the advanced navigational classes focusing on techniques for piloting a boat in coastal and inland conditions. The course emphasizes planning your course and checking position. Additionally it introduces digital charting along with traditional charting, compass and dead reckoning skills. Plotting, labeling, use of the compass, aids to navigation and a host of related topics are included in this class on coastal and inland piloting.

Advanced Piloting

Advanced Piloting is the final part of the inland and coastal navigation series. This material continues to build on the base developed in Piloting, a nd includes practical use of additional electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are: finding position using bearings and angles, collision avoidance using GPS and RADAR, what to do when the electronics fail, tides, currents and wind and their effect on navigation, and electronic navigation with GPS, chart plotters, RADAR, autopilots, etc.

Junior Navigation

Junior Navigation is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore (open coast) navigation. It is designed as a practical, how-to course using GPS for offshore navigation with sun sight taking using a sextant as a backup technique. Junior Navigation subject matter includes: basic concepts of celestial navigation; how to use the mariners sextant to take sights of the sun; the importance and techniques of accurate time determination; use of the Nautical Almanac; how to reduce sights to establish lines of position (LOPs); and the use of GPS, special charts, plotting sheets and other navigational data for offshore positioning and passage planning.


This is the second part of the study of offshore navigation. It further develops the students skills and understanding of celestial theory. The student is introduced to additional sight reduction techniques for bodies other than the sun. The student develops greater skill and precision in sight taking, positioning and the orderly methods of carrying on the days work of a navigator at sea. Of particular interest and importance is the navigation software that is explained and used in practices for planning and navigating in the offshore environment. Offshore navigation using minimal data and/or equipment, such as when on a disabled vessel or lifeboat is also studied.

Elective Courses

Cruise Planning

Designed for mariners who plan to cruise for just a day or for a year in either a sail or powerboat this course covers the following topics: cruise preparation and planning, boat and equipment, anchors and anchoring, security, chartering, cruising outside the United States, crew and provisioning, voyage management, communications, navigation, weather, and emergencies.

Engine Maintenance

The complete Engine Maintenance course consists of two modular sections.

EM 101, Basic Engine Maintenance, provides information about marine propulsion systems, basic engine principles, engine components, controls, instruments and alarms, marine engine maintenance, and steering systems. There is a chapter on winter storage and spring servicing that includes a 25-step winterizing checklist.

EM 102, Advanced Engine Maintenance, delves into cooling and exhaust systems, lubrication, fuel and air induction systems, ignition systems, electrical and starting systems, power trains, and troubleshooting. The last chapter is on emergency repairs afloat.

Instructor Development

This course deals with effective communication for speakers and teachers, a quality that benefits the individual in all walks of life. It offers practical instruction in: preparing for teaching assignments, preparing for meeting presentations, effective teaching techniques, conducting efficient classes, and selecting and using audiovisual aids.

Marine Electronics

This new series of Marine Electronics courses is being structured into three new manuals: Marine Electrical Systems, Marine Communication Systems, and Marine Navigation Systems.

Marine Electrical Systems covers the practice of wiring your boat, including marine electrical wiring practices and diagrams, direct and alternating current power, galvanic and stray current corrosion, and lightning protection. Troubleshooting is emphasized throughout, so students should feel comfortable performing even complex wiring tasks after passing this course.

Marine Communication Systems is an in-depth, nine chapter review of communications systems available to the recreational boater. Radio history and spectrum definitions are presented along with definitions of radio circuits that the student should learn to choose the best communications method for their situation. One chapter is devoted to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and another to FCC Rules and regulations. The remaining chapters cover High Seas radio (MF/HF and satellite communications) and other systems such as Family Radio Service transceivers. There is also a chapter on troubleshooting of radio installations.

Marine Navigation Systems covers all aspects of electronic navigation using GMDSS as the foundation for modern marine communications. GPS is taught as the primary method of position fixing, and LORAN will be covered only as a historic sidebar topic. This will be a systems course not how to navigate that focuses on the use of electronic devices to augment the practice of safe navigation on the water. Topics include GPS, the Automatic Identification System (AIS), RADAR, depth sounder and related instruments, electronic charting systems, and a working understanding of the electronic bus structures needed to tie these devices together.


This is a complete sail course beginning with basic boat designs, rigging and sail processes for the non-sailor. The course proceeds into the physical aspects of sailing, sail applications, marlinespike, helmsmanship, and handling of more difficult sailing conditions, navigation rules, and an introduction to heavy weather sailing.


The safety and comfort of those who venture out-on-the water have always been weather dependent. In this course students will become keener observers of the weather, but weather observations only have meaning in the context of the basic principles of meteorology the science of the atmosphere. The course focuses on how weather systems form, behave, move, and interact with one another and reflects the availability of the numerous types of weather reports and forecasts on the Internet. It is a general weather course benefiting those sitting in their living rooms, as much as those standing behind the helm.