Annapolis Sail and Power Squadron
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Boat Operatorís Certification Program

The United States Power Squadron has begun a program of certification for boat operatorís expertise in recreational boat handling. With this Program, USPS will certify USPS members at various levels of recreational boating proficiency. According to the USPS website, the national organization anticipates that the certifications will be recognized throughout the boat community to include insurance companies, charter companies, etc. The U.S. Coast Guard has asked congress to authorize the Transportation Secretary to establish requirements for standards of proficiency for recreational boaters. The USPS intends to have the USPS certification accepted as the national certificate for the U.S.

The current BOC program consists of four levels of Boat Operator Certification:

  • Inland Navigator (IN)
  • Coastal Navigator (CN)
  • Advanced Coastal Navigator (ACN)
  • Offshore Navigator (ON)

Each level of certification builds on the previous one; candidate must complete the previous level of certification prior to beginning the next level. The first two levels of certification, Inland Navigator and Coastal Navigator are operational; the two remaining levels are in development.

The requirements for each level of certification include a combination of hands on demonstration of boat handling skills and completion of USPS courses and seminars. At the IN level, the emphasis of the hands-on skills includes knot tying, actual use of a fire extinguisher, and On-The-Water boat handling. The boat handling component includes docking, leaving the dock, low and high speed boat handling, anchoring, and crew over-board recovery.


  • NASBLA approved Safe Boating Course
  • Seamanship (or S 101 and S 102
  • Engine Maintenance (EM)
  • Marine Electronics or Marine Electrical Systems or ME 101


  • How to Use a Chart (CHT) (or Piloting, Chart Smart, or Boating courses)
  • Basic Weather and Forecasting (BWF) or Onboard Weather Forecasting (OBWF) (or Weather course or Weather Modules)
  • Using GPS (GPS) (or the new P or AP Course)
  • VHF Radio and VHF/DSC Marine Radio (or ME 102 or Marine Communications Systems)

To start the BOC program in ASPS, I would like to begin by conducting the hands on skills demonstration this fall. I have offered my 17í Chris Craft inboard/outboard bow rider power boat as the demonstration platform. The on the water demonstration can be completed in a couple of hours for each operator. I have tentatively scheduled the demonstration activities for Saturday, September 8th. Depending on the interest it may be necessary to conduct multiple sessions on that day. Additionally, I was advised by the district IN certifier that it is advantageous to have an evening session sometime the week preceding the demonstration to provide an overview of the demonstration activities as well as complete some of the skills demonstration such as the knot tying.

I would like to find out how much membership interest there is in participating in the BOC program as well as is the Sept 8 date will work for those who are interested in pursuing the program. If you are interested in starting the program and would like to participate in the on the water skills demonstration on September 8, please contact me. I can be reached via email at or by phone at 410-903-7392. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to call or email me at the contact points above

P/C Rich Hughes, SN-IN

On-the-Water Training Provides Hands-On Skill Development

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