leaping orca photo header for BSPS club
  • There are more advanced courses: see Other Courses or view / print an Adobe PDF of other course descriptions.
  • NEW! We have short seminars, one-evening topical discussions (anchoring, radar, compass, etc.). Non-members are welcome to join us for these seminars. See Other Courses.

America's Boating Course  Spring Class will start April 5, continuing through May 24.

Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron teaches this course in partnership with Bellingham Technical College on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. This course covers all material required by WA State Boater Education Card, and qualifies the graduate for the card.

The comprehensive eight-week course teaches navigation and charting of local coastal waters, boat handling skills, and safety tips for both sailors and power boaters. Instructors draw on many years of local boating experience to help students with successful cruising in the San Juan Islands. The full course outline can be found below.

Students will need dividers and NOAA Chart 18421 (Strait of Juan de Fuca to Strait of Georgia). Charts are available at local marine stores; dividers are available at the BTC bookstore or at local marine stores. Participants can earn college credit and may qualify for lower boat insurance rates.

For a $95 fee, students receive instruction, course manual, and chart plotter. After you pass the exam, the course fee also includes a six-month membership in the United States Power Squadrons, which offers courses ranging from seamanship to celestial navigation.

To register call BTC at (360) 752-8350 and ask for MARIN 110, Introduction to Maritime Safety and Navigation.

Questions? Contact Andy Backus at [email protected] or (360) 715-1984.

More about America's Boating Course.....

Learn the fundamentals of safe boat handling and operation, and basic piloting in one comprehensive classroom course. This newly revised course includes lessons on seamanship, boat handling, boat types, rules of the road, navigation aids, regulations, adverse conditions, marine VHF radio, knots, trailering and introductory piloting.  The use of charts is explained in this course as the essential step to provide key information required for a safe passage. As a special feature it also includes an introduction to digital charting CD-ROM: Maptech's Chart Navigator Training CD.

America's Boating Course is recognized by the U. S. Coast Guard and has been approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Completion of the course is accepted by most insurance companies.  Since 1914, individual squadrons of USPS have provided courses as a service to the boating public to over 3 million boaters.

The 244-page full color course manual consists of five chapters packed with boating tips.

Getting Started Chapter 1:

  • Getting Started—nautical terms
  • Required Safety Equipment-life jackets, fire ext.
  • Going Boating—fueling, casting off, underway

Navigation Rules Chapter 2:

  • Navigation Rules
  • Navigation Aids
  • Lights and Sound signals
  • Government Regulations
  • State and Local Regulations

Finding Your Way Chapter 3:

  • Finding Your Way—nautical charts, electronic navigation
  • Anchoring
  • Adverse Conditions and Emergencies
  • Communications Afloat

Water Sports Safety Chapter 4:

  • Water Sports Safety-water skiing, hunting/fishing, paddling
  • Trailering
  • PWC Operation
  • Knots and Lines

Introduction To Navigation Chapter 5:

Featuring hands-on exercises using standard plotting tools. This chapter is presented in a classroom setting under the expert guidance of an experienced instructor. Classroom plotting exercises build skill and confidence for larger lakes and rivers and coastal waters.

  • Introduction to Navigation—how GPS works, nautical charts, digital charts
  • Charts—what they convey and how to interpret the many symbols
  • Digital Charting—an introduction to waypoint and route planning using the latest in computer software

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