Navigation and Seamanship Courses

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Our Educational Offerings:

Basic Boating Class Navigation and Seamanship Seminars On-the-Water Training


Navigation and Seamanship Courses

Go HERE to register and pay for courses offered by Houston Sail and Power Squadron (HSPS) via PayPal (credit card or account)

One of the main goals of the United States Power Squadrons and its Houston area unit is improving the skills of recreational boaters. In addition to its public education program, HSPS teaches a series of outstanding courses that cover advanced seamanship, navigational techniques, and boat handling, maintenance, and enhancement topics. Learn how to become a member of HSPS and take any or all of these courses. Note that not all courses are offered by the squadron each year. Two semesters of courses are normally offered – Spring, which typically begins in February, and Fall, which usually begins in September.

Advanced Grade Courses

Five Advanced Grade courses are offered by USPS. They are designed to be taken in sequence, because each builds on skills taught in the previous courses.

  • Seamanship covers material applicable to both power and sail, covering such topics as the construction and functioning of a boat, the skipper’s responsibilities, preparing the boat for use, handling and maneuvering a vessel under various conditions in close quarters and on the open water, rules of the road, anchoring, emergencies, and marlinespike/basic knots.
    • HERE are some typical questions answered by the course.
  • Piloting is the first and most basic navigation course, covering chart reading, course plotting, and basic coastal or inland navigation, including basic GPS usage.
  • Advanced Piloting covers more advanced coastal navigation techniques, navigation in tides and currents, and more advanced GPS usage.
  • Junior Navigation teaches the basics of offshore navigation, including basic celestial navigation using the sun and offshore course planning.
  • Navigation is the most advanced navigation course taught by USPS, covering more advanced celestial navigation techniques, emergency navigation, and additional sight reduction techniques.

Elective Courses

Seven Elective Courses are offered by USPS. Most cover separate and independent topics, and therefore may be taken in any order according to a member’s interests and time. However, it is strongly recommended that a student take Marine Electrical Systems prior to taking Marine Communication Systems.

  • Engine Maintenance covers the operating principles and basic care and maintenance of outboard and inboard engines, including diesels.
  • Marine Electrical Systems covers installation and maintenance of both boat electrical systems (AC and DC) and marine electronics (VHF radio, radar, GPS, etc).
  • Marine Communication Systems covers theory, operation and maintenance of marine radio (VHF & SSB), RADAR, and satellite communication systems
  • Cruise Planning covers topics of interest for someone planning a cruise – whether for just a weekend or for a year – including preparation and planning, anchoring, security, chartering, and cruising outside the US.
  • Weather covers weather forecasting and reading weather patterns on-board.
  • Sail covers everything from the basic elements of how a sailboat works to sail trim, rig tuning, and sailboat racing.
  • Instructor Development teaches effective communication skills for not only USPS instructors but everyone, covering various methods of presenting information to others, effective use of audiovisual aids (including PowerPoint), etc.

Seamanship will be offered in Magnolia on 4 Sunday afternoons this summer. Classes will run from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. The address will be provided to those who sign up on our Educational Store page. Don’t forget to purchase both tuition and the required materials. The dates of the classes are June 19, July 10 and 24, and August 7.

Fall 2016 course plan is developing. The final schedule will be posted during the summer. Here are the courses currently planned. All will be at Home Port.



Advanced Piloting

Cruising & Cruise Planning

Marine Electrical Systems

Marine Communications Systems


Courses shown as being held at Home Port will be at 6910 Bellaire Blvd., #15, Houston, TX 77074.

We normally need at least two students in any course to make holding the course worthwhile, but the instructor has the right to proceed with only a single student if mutually agreed.


Tuition = $35 for Active and Family members, Scouts and their leaders, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members; $135 for public. Materials are mandatory for all courses. Available optional materials include a set of dividers and a USPS course plotter. Those types of tools are mandatory for Piloting and Advanced Piloting, but it is not necessary to purchase the materials through HSPS. Payment for everything can be made using the PayPal buttons on the Educational Store page of the squadron website. Materials may also be purchased during enrollment for cash, check or by using PayPal.

Shortly after you sign up you will receive an e-mail confirming your purchase and providing more information about the classes.

For more information about activities of the squadron, visit our Facebook page.

On the Water Field Trips to Galveston Bay

To reinforce the classroom experience we include on the water field trips each semester. These are low-key, fun outings on Galveston / Trinity Bay in HSPS member boats. We have a varied fleet: small outboard runabouts, mid-size outboard center consoles, small daysailors, blue water cruising sailboats, large power cruisers and trawlers. The cost is free to all active HSPS students in courses, plus graduates of seminars, the basic boating course, Seamanship or Piloting, but you must pay for your own brunch at the restaurant where we begin our trip. For details and to register contact Bob Stevenson at 832-570-3663. The remaining Field Trip for this year will be on

  • October 1, 2016

Boat Operator Certification

For information on achieving certification as a boater, please see our separate page.

Dead Reckoning Computer Instructions

Detailed instructions on using an aeronautical DR Computer are provided HERE.