Advanced Grades Classes

For more information.

Contact the Squadron Education Officer, Lt/C Bentley Rickmers.

email Bentley Rickmers

Advanced Grades

All USPS Advanced Grades classes are open to both members and non-members.  For all USPS courses, instruction is provided by volunteers at no charge.  Members receive a significant discount on charges for course materials.  Membership applications will be available at the first session of each class.

The advanced grades classes begin with Seamanship, then progress through Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Junior Navigation and Navigation.  Classes may be taken or challenged in any sequence.  To be successful, it is recommended that the courses be taken in order.  A member must have passed the exam for the previous grade level before being awarded the next highest grade.  A member who takes and passes the examination is awarded the title, known as grade, S, P, AP, JN, or N.  A member’s grade is entered into his file and the member may wear the appropriate grade insignia on the uniform.  The grade also appears after the member’s name, in The Wake Astern, and all squadron and USPS publications.

Call the course chairman for course materials pricing information and to register for classes.  Advance registration is important to assure that we are able to order and receive sufficient course materials for all students in a class.  If there are insufficient students registered for a class, the class may be postponed or offered for self-study.


The course starts with types of power and sail boats, construction materials used, and handling characteristics.  It also includes boat handling, trailering housekeeping, safety, handling under adverse conditions, required equipment, rules of the road, aids to navigation, nautical customs and courtesy.  (approx. 7 weeks).

This course continues the chart work started in the Basic Boating class and gives practical instruction in position determination based on plotting courses and dead reckoning.  More information is given on required equipment, navigational rules, types and availability of charts and the compass. (approx. 8 weeks)

Advanced Piloting
This is an intensive course, preparing the member to use all the tools of piloting:  the compass, correcting the compass, use of charts, determining position by bearing, angles and soundings.  Effects of tides and currents are studied and “paper cruises” using all the course resources are sailed.
(approx. 12 weeks)

Junior Navigation

This course involves the basic techniques of celestial navigation:  the earth as a sphere and how this is reflected on various types of charts, time, time zones, taking sextant sights of the sun and how to use the Nautical Almanac.  The student is taught use and care of a sextant, how to take sights, reduce and plot them.  A “paper cruise” is part of the class. (approx. 26 weeks)


This course is a continuation of JN with more emphasis on finding a position through the use of celestial bodies.  Fundamental principles are expanded, computations and methods are practiced, and emergency or lifeboat navigation is studied.  The day’s work of the navigator is performed and a “paper cruise” is made which includes all aspects of JN and N. (approx. 26 weeks)