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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation > USPS Courses--Issues
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-18-2002 03:00 PM
decatur
USPS Courses--Issues

Have been reading these posts with some interest. Many years ago, more than I care to state, I took a USPS intro course. It was ok. The material and curriculum was fine, however, I found the instructors to be condescending and at times pedantic. Now that said, I''m sure that was an anomaly.

Currently, and with no relevance to my experience with the USPS, I am in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The courses there are excellent but the same bureaucratic resistance to change exists. Nonetheless, the courses the CGAUX has relies heavily on dead reckoning and keeping updated plots, in fact their recommendation is to record DR plots every 30 minutes.

Guess I don''t have anything really important to impart just passing on my thoughts.
02-03-2002 12:12 PM
SHIMSHON
USPS Courses--Issues

USPS offers pretty much the basic material that a sailor needs in order to get from point A to point B. This should be the starting point however and form the basis for a truly rewarding sailing experience. I have taken some of their courses as refreshers and founf that the quality of instructors, dedication and wealth of experience is difficult to find any where else. Their "Make Shore, Make Sure" is a wonderful introductory program to boating--particularly for parents and children. Their navigation texts on piloting, dead recokning and celestial navigation are well written and easy to understand. As one responder stated GPS is mostly intuitive and with any computer experience one can get very familiar with any of the modern units very quickly. I have all the modern electronic devices aboard my vessel but when offshore (and some times just as an abundance of caution ie. anticipated fog}I will run a DR track, a Loran Position track and a GPS track. Its fun to see how close you can come and how accurate the electronics are when compared to each other'' For extra measure I sometimes throw in a noon position, just so the skills don''t get too rusty. PS--I am not a member of the Power Squardon.
02-03-2002 03:44 AM
manateee_gene
USPS Courses--Issues

One appology per day is ENUF!
When we visit you in person this month you can see for yourself how our boat has been
kept up with the times.If you would rather not wait.Look up the yesterday pic'' under Dancy8888 on th CWBB.
02-03-2002 03:28 AM
BigRed56
USPS Courses--Issues

Ahoy me matey''s , me thinking ye lost track of the original pont. The teaching must keep up with the times. Being the most available to the widest range of people the obvious lack of technology does not bode well for long term growth. D/R is in-valuable, GPS and modern computer related subjects must be addressed. Sextant ,celestrial if not already is fast becomming an academic oddity. Wooden boats.... don''t get me started Big Red 56 the Pirate
02-03-2002 12:07 AM
halyardz
USPS Courses--Issues

I agree with you guys. The texts are basically pretty good, if dated, and that you learn a good deal from instructors...and HHJ, we do have a heavy % of sailors in our Squadron. My comments were made in the spirit of making a good thing better but also a nudge that the organization is terribly slow to change.

01-28-2002 05:04 AM
HHJ
USPS Courses--Issues

I''ve been taking the USAPS courses for a number of years now - I''ve earned a JN for celestial navigation. In my years of taking the courses, I have not found an emphasis on wooden boats or western rivers or anything else along those lines. While national does write the tests and textbooks (which were updated within the last 2 years) much of the flavor of the courses rest with the individual squadron.

I found that my instructors gave a nod toward GPS (and Loran) where appropriate, but always with a caution and also with the advice that you can learn it easily from the instruction manual; they were not going waste classroom time on something you could do just as easily yourself.

The first squadrom I joined consisted mostly of power-boaters, so I looked around and found another local squadron that was 80% sailors, and it did make a difference. Depending on where you live, you may not have a choice, but check around.
01-27-2002 12:45 PM
bporter
USPS Courses--Issues

True - they shouldn''t completely neglect somthing like GPS. But navigation fundamentals are more important, GPS is just a tool. Should be addressed, but NOT at the expense of basic nav skills.

Frankly, I think Celestial is more important to teach in a classroom setting than soemthing like satelite nav, if you''re going to teach only one tool. Most GPS''s today are pretty foolproof - if you understand navigation then figuring out how to use the GPS takes 15 minutes with the instruction book. Older ones are a little trickier, but I can plot a course from my East Greenwich RI to Nantucket on my Garmin GPSMap 76 within in couple of minutes, AND without a chart if I am feeling pretty stupid.

Of course things like learning about the care & feeding of wooden boats doesn''t make sense at all. At least not as part of a USPS "core curriculum". Sure, there are plenty of people that love the smell of varnish more than life itself out there, but the vast majority of us have plastic...
01-27-2002 03:54 AM
halyardz
USPS Courses--Issues

Don''t get me wrong, I really find the local USPS instruction outstanding and I agree one must learn DR, piloting basics, and so on. My source of frustration is not with them or the basics...its with the boys at national that organize the course materials, create the tests, and so on. Some of the material should be optional, like wooden boats, Western Rivers and they should be quicker to respond to the changes. If you don''t teach GPS and focus on celestial, you are doing a dis-service. They have an affirmative responsibility to catch up.
01-26-2002 04:38 PM
bporter
USPS Courses--Issues

Several years ago when my wife and I were taking the Chapman School''s "Offshore Sailing" course, the skipper/instructor told us a little story...or set of stories as the case may be.

This guy was popping back and forth from Stuart FL to the Bahamas fairly regularly as part of teaching the course. He mentioned that every few months or so, he''s have a radio coversation that went something like:

<SOME BOAT OVER VHF - call her "GPS Queen"> "Eastbound white sailboat in the Gulf Stream, this is GPS Queen"

SHADY LADY - "This is Shady Lady"
GPS QUEEN - "Where are you headed?"
SHADY LADY - "Port Lucaya, Bahamas"
GPS QUEEN - "Can we follow you in?"

Inevitably, someone would drop the handheld GPS overboard, run out of AA batteries or in some way screw the sattelite nav system. Then, having no clue about Dead Reckoning, and not having maintained a DR course on a paper chart, they''d have no clue where they were.

Moral of the story - every hour during the passage we made a DR note on the chart. We''d check them against the GPS periodically, but if we lost the GPS we still would have made port just fine.

So, even though GPS navigation is getting pretty simple and almost any fool can figure it out in fifteen minutes you can still get into trouble if you don''t learn the "archaic & anachronistic" fundamentals.

I still want to learn how to do Celestial Navigation, just for the perverse fun of it...
01-26-2002 09:16 AM
BigRed56
USPS Courses--Issues

Ahoye ye knaves I too took the course and have that pretty document to grace me walls in the captains cabin. Be it ever so humble a document it is a place to start. Aye there be a proliferation of old school learning and the company might be more powerminded for the like of us , but they be good lads tried and true and in a pinch and a bad blow tis good to pluck one of the fellows to the safety of a real sailing ship. Mind ye I''s can''t tolerate the authority and chain of command one wit but thats what a Pirate is ye see. ARRH Big Red the Pirate of Pine Island.
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