America's Boating Club - Wilmington

Educational Opportunities 

Breaking Education News!

Beginning Saturday, May 4, 2024, we are offering, in Cooperation with the New Castle Sailing Club, the Delaware State Safe Boating and Certification Course.  Click this link for more information.

Recent Education Awards

Check out the link for some great news regarding Education Awards received by ABC Wilmington at the Fall Conference in early November!

Course Catalogue

[Basic Boating] [Advanced Courses] [  Elective Courses ]

Please contact our Education Officer, Bill Barber at (302)-563-8768 or if you are interested in any of the courses listed below.

Basic Boating Certification Course (an introductory course)

Boater Certification is required for operators of mechanically propelled vessels born after January 1, 1978 on Delaware waters and July 1, 1975 on Maryland waters, and highly recommended for ALL boaters.

Our club offers the Delaware Safe Boating and Certification course two times a year, usually in the Spring.  The course is NASBLA approved and meets the educational requirements of all state and local authorities. We strive to ensure that students are prepared to have fun on the water through safe practices.  Course topics are broad introduction to boating laws and skills—boat hulls and propulsion, rules of the road, aids to navigation, charts, anchoring, emergencies, trailers, water sports and more.

It is taught in three three-hour sessions with an exam at the end of the final session. Upon successfully completing the Boater Certification course and becoming a member of America's Boating Club - Wilmington, you are eligible to attend the many educational opportunities available as Advanced Courses and even some Home Study courses.

Advanced Courses

America’s Boating Club Wilmington offers educational courses to its members in two general categories: Advanced Grades and Elective Courses.  Additional information relating to any of the following courses is available to membership through the ABC Education Department.  It is important to note that the form of study materials may be offered in printed or electronic formats.  The squadron SEO can offer you guidance in your course selection.The Advanced Courses listed below are for members of the United States Power Squadrons ®. Click here to find out how to join ABC-Wilmington.

Boat Handling (S) - Revised 2019, Updated 2020

The long standing first step on the Advanced Grades ladder, Seamanship, is being replaced in early 2019 by a new six session course.  The seminars that will be the basis of the course are:

The course can be managed as a single course, or as a series of individually scheduled seminars at the convenience and interest of students and instructors.  A Boat Handling exam will be ordered when the student has completed all six seminars and the Seaman grade will be awarded on the students passing grade.

Marine Navigation (P) - 2011, Revised 2016

The Marine Navigation course, previously the Piloting course, is the first in the sequence of USPS® courses on navigation, covering the basics of coastal and inland navigation. This all-new course focuses on navigation as it is done on recreational boats today and embraces GPS as a primary navigation tool while covering enough of traditional techniques so the student will be able to find his/her way even if their GPS fails. The course includes many in-class exercises, developing the student’s skills through hands-on practice and learning. Topics covered include:

Students have seven days to complete an open book exam..

Advanced Marine Navigation (AP) - 2011, Updated 2019 

Advanced Marine Navigation, previously the Advanced Piloting course, is the second in the sequence of USPS® courses on navigation. It continues to build coastal and inland navigation skill, allowing the student to take on more challenging conditions – unfamiliar waters, limited visibility, and extended cruises. GPS is embraced as a primary navigation tool while adding radar, chartplotters, and other electronic navigation tools. As with Marine Navigation, the course includes many in-class exercises, advancing the student’s skills through hands-on practice and learning.  Topics covered include:

Students have seven days to complete an open book exam.

Offshore Navigation (JN) - 2007, Revised 2017

Offshore Navigation, previously the Junior Navigation course, is the first in a two-part program of study in offshore navigation, followed by the Celestial Navigation course. It is designed as a practical "how to" course. Subject matter includes:

The student will continue to use GPS as the primary position sensor, however, the offshore environment poses many different elements for consideration by the Navigator.  Visible terrestrial landmarks are no longer available as reference.

The principles learned in Advanced Marine Navigation and plot a running fix from two sun sights taken about four hours apart.  Once the student has learned the basics of celestial sight reduction, the course continues with planning, positioning, and checking one’s position in the offshore environment, using both electronic and celestial tools.  

There are two examination elements for the Offshore Navigation Course, the Sight Folder, graded at the squadron level, and an Open Book Exam graded by headquarters.

Celestial Navigation (N) - 2015, Revised 2018

Celestial Navigation, previously the Navigation course, is the second part of the study of offshore navigation, further developing the student's understanding of celestial navigation theory.   This Navigation 2009 course deals with learning celestial positioning using other bodies, in addition to positioning using the sun (covered in the Offshore Navigation course).  This course also deals with electronic software tools that can be used to plan and execute an offshore voyage.  You will first learn to reduce these sights by the Law of Cosines method.  Later in the course you will learn an additional method of sight reduction, the Nautical Almanac Sight Reduction (NASR) method.  You will also learn about sight planning techniques.  With that knowledge, you will have the tools to take sights and complete your Celestial Navigation Sight Folder.  The course includes a chapter on using a software-based voyage planning tool and a navigation program.  The final chapter of the course contains a Practice Cruise that ties the separate elements of the course together.

 The Practice Cruise is an excellent preparation for the open book exam. 

There are two exam elements for the N2009 course, the Sight Folder and an Open Book Exam, both graded by the Offshore Navigation Committee.  There is no set order for completion of the Sight Folder and Exam.

Elective Courses


Cruising and Cruise Planning (C) - 2013, Revised 2015

Students will have to take a multiple choice closed book exam upon completion of the course.

Engine Maintenance (EM) - 2011

The new Engine Maintenance course 2011 has been put into one ten chapter course that stresses the diagnosis of modern systems, while also teaching the basics of engine layout and operation. Gasoline inboards, outboards, and diesel engines are taught in a way that reinforces the common aspects of how engines work.

Modern engines offer high reliability and good performance through the use of computerized systems for fuel delivery and engine timing. Most of these systems are “black boxes” that can no longer be serviced by weekend mechanics with ordinary tools. The EM course covers those repairs that do-it-yourselfers can still perform, teaches how to diagnose problems that might be beyond your ability to fix, and how to share information with your mechanic so the right repairs get performed. The new Engine Maintenance course also covers basic mechanical systems such as drive systems (propellers), steering systems, and engine controls. The last chapter discusses solutions you might use to problems that could occur while afloat and away from a repair facility. Gasoline, diesel, and outboard engines are treated independently in this chapter.

This new course is complete in one book with one exam.

Marine Electrical Systems (MES) - 2008, Revision 1 

This course is presented in seven chapters that start with an explanation of what electricity is, followed by discussions on boat electrical wiring, DC and AC electrical systems, galvanic and stray current corrosion, lightning protection, and ends with troubleshooting of boat electrical problems.

Course includes detailed instructions on how to use a multimeter, how to solder and crimp electrical wiring circuits, and how to read electrical wiring diagrams.  This course can be used as a reference guide for anyone interested in properly maintaining their boat electrical system.  Requires nine two-hour sessions.

Students will have to take a closed book exam upon completion of the course. 

Marine Communications Systems (MCS) - 2009, 2nd Printing 

This course is an in-depth review of those systems available to the recreational boater or to those with whom he/she shares the water.  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 his/her situation.   One chapter is devoted to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and another to FCC Rules and regulations to set the stage for instruction of radiotelephone operating procedures (both voic and digital messaging are covered).  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.  Requires seven two-hour sessions. 

Students will have to take a closed book exam upon completion of the course.   

Electronic Navigation Systems (MNS) - 2013 

Electronic Navigation introduces GPS technology from the most basic receiver to chart plotter systems for navigation on board.  The process of navigating by establishing waypoints and routes, and then running the planned courses, is demonstrated.  Further, electronic charting software for the desktop computer is examined, and creation of waypoints and routes on the desktop and subsequent download to the onboard unit.  Despite differences among the various manufacturers’ offerings, a thorough discussion of the feastures being made available is included. 

Students will have to take a closed book exam upon completion of the course. 

While the USPS® course Marine Navigation Systems (MNS) remains in development, successful completion of this Electronic Navigation course from CPS will earn MNS credit toward a full certificate.

Radar for Boaters - 2018. 

Radar for Boaters is up-to-date for radar technologies available now and into the near future.  The course covers the different types of radar equipment, their capabilities and limitations, as well as their features and how they apply to students’ needs.  It covers what you need to know about radar, from how and where to mount the antenna to how to interpret the displays, so you can use your radar for collision avoidance and for navigational purposes.

 Requirements and Prerequisites for Marine Electronics:  The new series of courses for Marine Electronics consists of three standalone courses.   EMSCom recommends that these new courses be taken in the following order:  Electrical Systems, Communications Systems, and Navigation Systems (Electronic Navigation)  The committee also strongly recommends that students take Communications Systems, as mastery of this important topic can help you call for help if you should need it.

 Sail (Sa) - 2009

Sail 2009 is a completely new sail course created to serve the needs of the novice and experienced sailor, as well as the non-sailor, for basic skills and knowledge.  The course starts with basic sailboat designs and nomenclature, rigging, safety, and sail processes and then tackles the physical aspects of sailing forces and techniques, sail applications, marlinespike, helmsmanship and handling of more difficult sailing conditions, navigation rules, and an introduction to heavy weather sailing.  Appendices provide an introduction to sailboat racing. 

Course completion is documented by a closed book exam graded by USPS® headquarters.

Weather (Wx) - 2008, Revised 2012,  Updated 2013

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 all sorts of weather reports and forecasts on the Internet. Wx2012 is a general weather course benefiting those sitting in their living rooms, as much as those standing behind the helm. Each student receives:

Course completion is a multiple choice closed book exam.

Instructor Development (ID)  - 2013. Revised 2018

Unlike other USPS® courses, the Instructor Development course is not designed to enhance boating skills. Rather, its emphasis is on enhancing instructor skills. The course has been designed to demonstrate interactive teaching methods focused on adult learning. Students are required to prepare lesson plans and give three presentations to their peers utilizing a variety of teaching aids and presentation skills.   The instructor may assign a topic for these presentations or you may use material and PowerPoint slides from existing USPS® courses, and they may build on one another. 

NOTE:  Instructor Development, previously referred to as Instructor Techniques (I), replaces the Instructor Qualification (Q) course.

Prior to leaving on a boating trip, whether for a afternoon, day, or longer, file a float plan.



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