Courseline Course Descriptions


Volunteer Taught Courses

Courses available through the Courseline Online are typically offered at low-cost. Most of the courses include volunteer instruction, but nominal funds may be required to cover course materials. These courses are thorough, NASBLA-approved (National Association of Boating Law Administrators), and often taught by the US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

State Agency Courses

Your State Boating Office may offer boating courses with textbooks and certificates of completion. Many states have study-at-home programs. Topics covered include boats and motors, legal requirements, Rules of the Road, getting underway, weather, navigation, trailering, first aid, white water, and sailboats. Young Boater's courses are also available in some states. These courses are NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved and recognized by the US Coast Guard as meeting the minimum educational standards for basic safety, navigation, and survival information.

Private Schools

Many companies offer boating courses that meet in local sites across the country. These companies typically charge a higher fee, but you usually only need one to two days time to complete the course. In many cases, private companies can only certify in that particular state, so check before you sign up if you plan to boat in another state.

State Education Requirements Information

Boating laws change periodically, thus affecting educational requirements for some boaters. If you are looking for a course which fulfills a specific state requirement (e.g., New Jersey approved PWC courses), view the State Educational Requirements (select your state) to learn more. Many states require specific courses depending on the age of the boater and/or the kind of boat being operated. Be sure that the course you take is approved for your state, age, and the kind of boating you intend to do.


Course Providing Agencies


United States Power Squadron

a picture of the america's boating course book

America's Boating Course 3rd Edition is certified by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, and meets licensing requirements for almost all states.

The course has been extensively revised and rewritten to enhance enjoyment and retention of the material, and to address new technological developments. America's Boating Course 3rd Edition can be completed in one of three ways: on the internet, as a CD-based home-study course, or in the classroom. All receive an extensive full color book and self-study animated, narrated CD. The book and CD provide easy reference after the course has been completed. Since all material is identical, those starting on the internet can finish at home or in the classroom.

The basic material has four chapters, each requiring about 2 hours.

  • Chapter 1 - Getting Started, Required Safety Equipment & Going Boating
  • Chapter 2 - Nav. Rules, Navigation Aids, Lights & Sound Signals, Government Regulation, State & Local Regulations
  • Chapter 3 - Finding Your Way, Anchoring, Adverse Conditions & Emergencies, Communications Afloat
  • Chapter 4 - Water Sports Safety, Trailering, Personal Watercraft Operation, Knots and Lines

A fifth optional chapter provides an introduction to navigation, that covers:

  • GPS waypoint navigation
  • Using charts, and traditional navigation principles
  • Using digital charts, and
  • Practical navigation exercises

America's Boating Course is a complete program covering the basics of recreational boating. The course is designed for boaters with all types of watercraft - power, sail, or paddle. The course material package includes:

  • A full-color 244-page boating safety course manual, and
  • A boating instruction CD, a digital charting CD, and
  • Personal contact with United States Power Squadron members

Both the course manual and the CD provide review questions so that you can test your understanding of the material as you go along. In addition to the lessons, this package includes resources which will come in handy long after you have completed the course: printable forms (such as checklists, accident reports, float plans, etc.) and links to documents such as the U.S. Coast Guard's Navigation Rules, which can help you with any specific boating rule.

When you purchase America's Boating Course over the Internet, you will receive the complete package by mail. You will also receive a PIN (Personal Identification Number) that provides you with Internet access to their boating web site (www.americasboatingcourse.com) . Learn the basics of boating online at your own pace, at home or away.

In addition to the boating course package, a fellow boater in your area from USPS will contact you and offer assistance with the material, state regulations, and arranging for you to take a final safe boater exam accepted in your state, or answer other questions you may have. The United States Power Squadrons is on call at any time to help you.

The Seminar Series

Providing up-to-date information on a wide-range of topics important to today's recreational boaters. A good way to build skills, learn how to use equipment, or just update your knowledge. Seminars are open to the general public. Many are single session of about two hours.

Focused topics:

books in the power squadron repertoire
  • How to Use a Chart
  • Using GPS
  • Trailering
  • Using Marine Radar
  • Anchoring
  • Sail Trim and Rig Tuning
  • PaddleSmart
  • Using VHF/DSC Marine Radio
  • Rivers & Locks
  • Onboard Weather Forecasting
  • Knots, Bends, & Hitches for Mariners
  • Selecting & Using Marine Compasses
  • Boat Handling Under Power
  • Advanced Powerboat Handling
  • Basic Coastal Navigation
  • Hurricanes and Boats
  • Crew Overboard
  • Marine Maintenance Series
  • Heavy Weather Sailing
  • Emergencies On Board
  • Diesel Engine Care & Repair
  • Partner in Command
  • and, more on the way!

Advantages of the Program

  • Refresh boating skills.
  • Stay current with new technology.
  • Meet needs of those unable to commit to a multi-session course
  • Learn subjects targeted to a specific boating environment or subject
  • Ease into a full educational curriculum
  • Gain credits toward boat operator certification
United States Power Squadron Homepage

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

Basic Boating Course: Boating Skills and Seamanship

Comprehensive course designed for both the experienced and the novice boater. The course consists of 6 required two-hour lessons plus elective modules, providing up-to-date knowledge for handling boats in all conditions.

Topics include:

  • Which boat is for you
  • Equipment for your boat
  • Trailering your boat
  • Handling your boat
  • The rules you must follow
  • Piloting your boat
  • Powering your boat
  • Lines and knots for your boat
  • Weather and boating
  • Your boat's radio
  • Inland boating
  • The rest of our story

Basic Boating Course: Sailing Skills and Seamanship

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Sailing & Seamanship (S&S) course is a comprehensive course to prepare the beginning boater with the basic knowledge needed to safely operate a sailboat. The course consists of 6 required two-hour lessons plus elective modules, providing up-to-date knowledge for handling sailboats in all conditions.

Topics include:

  • What makes a sailboat?
  • How a boat sails
  • Basic sailboat maneuvering
  • Legal requirements and aids to navigation
  • Rigging and boat handling
  • Tuning and heavy weather
  • Navigation rules
  • Marlinspike seamanship
  • Engines for sailboats
  • Trailering
  • Weather
  • Radiotelephone
  • Inland waterways/locks & dams
  • Piloting

Boating Safely

Boating Safely is a eight-hour, eight-chapter course designed to appeal to hunters, anglers, personal watercraft operators and other boaters who cannot find time for a full, comprehensive course. Boating Safely was developed by the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in cooperation with the US. Power Squadrons and Mosby Lifeline, and is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). It is also approved by most of the states which require formal instruction in order to operate a boat.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to boating
  • Boating laws
  • Personal safety equipment
  • Safe boat handling
  • Navigation
  • Boating problems
  • Trailering, storing, and protecting your boat
  • Hunting/fishing, waterskiing, river boating

Basic Coastal Navigation Course

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Basic Coastal Navigation (BCN) course is a comprehensive course to introduce the advanced boater to the methods needed to safely pilot a boat.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to coastal navigation
  • The marine magnetic compass
  • he nautical chart
  • The navigator's tools and instruments
  • Dead reckoning
  • Piloting

Advanced Coastal Navigation Course

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Advanced Coastal Navigation (ACN) course is a comprehensive course to prepare the advanced boater with the knowledge needed to safely pilot a boat.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to coastal navigation
  • The marine magnetic compass
  • The nautical chart
  • The navigator's tools and instruments
  • Dead reckoning
  • Piloting
  • Current sailing
  • Tides and tidal currents
  • Radionavigation
  • Navigation reference publications
  • Fuel and voyage planning
  • Reflections

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Course

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Personal Watercraft course is a very basic, one-hour introduction to the safety issues involved when operating a PWC. Because of its brevity, it is not approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) nor is it approved by most of the states which require formal instruction in order to operate a boat (the Auxiliary's Boating Safely, Boating Skills & Seamanship and Sailing & Seamanship courses are more appropriate for meeting legal requirements).

The purpose of the course and its associated text, Personal Watercraft Rider's Handbook, is to teach that PWCs are boats and that their skippers have legal responsibilities and should learn the "rules of the road."

Boat 'n Kids Course

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boats 'n Kids course is a short one-hour presentation designed to teach 5- to 12-year-olds some basic safety tips around boats. The presentation includes a slide show demonstrating the correct and wrong things to do around water and boats. There is also a short video showing the safe things to do around and in boats.

Boats 'n Kids ends with a demonstration on how to put on a PFD (personal flotation device or life preserver) and what to do if someone else is in trouble in the water. Each child is given a work book to help them remember what they have learned, including proper boat loading, safe fuel handling and basic safe boating tips.

Water 'n Kids

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Water 'n Kids course is a short one-hour presentation designed to teach 4 to 7-year-olds some basic safety tips around water. The presentation includes a slide show demonstrating the correct and wrong things to do around water.

There is also a short video showing the safe things to do in and around boats. Water 'n Kids ends with a demonstration on how to put on a PFD (personal flotation device or life preserver) and what to do if someone else is in trouble in the water. Each child is given a coloring book to help them remember what they have learned. The coloring book (and several others) is also available online for downloading and printing in .GIF graphics format. It is also available in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) format which requires the free Adobe Reader software for viewing and printing.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Homepage

Boaters' Resource Guide

If you know of any other resources for boaters pertaining to boating safety education and state requirements, please let us know through our comment form.

National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) 502-867-2033
Mosby Lifeline 800-345-8738
National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) 502-867 2033
Boatwise Marine Training (RI, MA, NH, VT, CT) 800-698-7373
Captain License Prep Courses:
Sea School 800-237-8663
Chapman's School 800-225-2841
Houston Marine (800) 947-7737
Boatwise Marine Training 800) 698-7373
Maritime Institute of Technology 443-989-3246
Special Numbers for California Boaters:
Sound Environment Associates (SEA) 800-510-9995
Special Numbers for Connecticut Boaters:
ACI Environmental Safety 212-279-6804
CT Marine Services 800-305-3483
Green Marine Education 866-967-9951
Sound Environment Associates (SEA) 800-510-9995
Special Numbers for Florida Boaters:
AB Sea Boat School 772-692-8652
Boater Ed - Florida Courses 1-800-262-8373 (national)
954-730-6889 (Broward Co.)
Sound Environment Associates (SEA) 800-510-9995
Special Numbers for Maryland Boaters:
Boat Safe Educators 410-757-8522
Special Numbers for New York Boaters:
Empire Safety Council 516-360-2160
NY Boat School 718-956-5000
Sound Environment Associates (SEA) 800-510-9995
Special Numbers for New Jersey Boaters:
Boat Safe US, LLC 609-613-2339
Garden State Safety Council 800-565-4699 (NJ residents)
609-396-2232
Personal Watercraft Education Center 888-792-4665
Institute for Marine Safety 609-234-1930
Offshore Safety Systems 732-957-0675
ACI Environmental Safety 212-279-6804
NJ Boating Safety Classes 201-291-5976
Coast Boating School Inc. 732-279-0562
Ready Freddies Boating 908-598-0885
Lang Ski & Scuba 609-538-1970
Mr. Foster Voorhees 609-737-8004
Mr. Robert Dreeke 732-922-6368
Mr. Joe Foley 732-892-1244
Capt. Joe Oller 732-722-4813
Sound Environment Associates (SEA) 800-510-9995
Safety First Boating School 856-863-2250
Ellen Eagan 732-229-1091
NJ Boating Safety School, LLC 908-581-0550