Education‎ > ‎

Learning Guides

The United States Power Squadrons Guides are generally short booklets that provide useful information on a variety of marine-related topics. Some of these guides are used in USPS® classroom courses and seminars, but they are also available for individual home study. If you are interested in purchasing any of these guides, please contact Dick Aiken, our Learning Guides Chairperson.

Basic Plotting Guide

The Basic Plotting Guide is an excellent summary and overview of charts, navigation and plotting in a concise format. It is in color, 30pp, and richly illustrated. $5.95 (plus shipping & handling)

Boat Insurance


Do you really know what marine losses are covered by your insurance policy?  Don't be blind-sided by exceptions that come to your attention only after you suffer a loss.  Know what you're buying.  Here is what you need to know when you shop for boat insurance. $5 (plus shipping & handling)

The Boatowner's Guide to GMDSS and Marine Radio


The new Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) is revolutionizing emergency communications and international search and rescue at sea.  In recognition of this leap forward, all new marine radios are now equipped with digital selective calling (DSC).  The Boatowner's Guide to GMDSS and Marine Radioexplains clearly and concisely how this revolutionary maritime 911 equipment works and describes the enormous advantages of digital VHF radio for ordinary communications with fellow boaters.  The book comes with an interactive CD-ROM that shows you how to send emergency messages on a Class-D DSC equipped VHF radio, how to communicate with ships you want to avoid or whose assistance you need, how to call specific boats using digital selective calling, and how to set your digital receiver to "ring" so you will be alerted to incoming calls. $11 (plus shipping & handling)

How to Fly Flags

What's the best and most nautically-correct way to fly flags on your boat?  This colorful little booklet shows you everything you need to know: flying the US Ensign on any boat; displaying an officer's flag or a yacht club or squadron pennant; dressing ship for a parade or celebration; and more.  You'll also see the correct way to display flags ashore—indoors and out. $7 (plus shipping & handling)


Knots, Bends, and Hitches for Mariners

Published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill and richly illustrated with 200 fine drawings, this handy little how-to has something for every mariner. The essentials of the boater’s repertoire are here—the bowline, the sheet bend, the clove hitch, etc.—but so are such lesser-known gems as the hawser bend, the cow hitch, and many more.  $9.90 (plus shipping & handling)


The Basic Knots CD

In cooperation with Beutner Multimedia, USPS has a CD available that effectively demonstrates marlinespike techniques — Knot Tying: The Basic Knots. The Basic Knots CD is packaged with two different colored pieces of light nylon line that help show when a knot (like the square knot) is correctly tied.  Learn to tie 21 basic knots with this easy-to-use CD-ROM interactive reference.  High quality video shows each and every step clearly.  Knots demonstrated  include the Square Knot or Reef Knot, Figure Eight, Bowline, Round Turn, Half Hitch and more.  The demonstrations are well done and will be a terrific addition to your marlinespike reference library. $12.95 (plus shipping & handling)


Marine Amateur Radio


For anyone interested in using amateur radio on-board their boat this guide explains how to study for and obtain a license, how to select equipment and install it on board your boat, how to operate your radio for voice or Morse code communications, how to link up with onshore signal repeaters to extend your range and make personal phone calls, how to find and use ham marine radio nets to make position reports or request assistance,  and even how to send and receive e-mail using ham radio.  Ham radio offers many advantages to the recreational boater, and this well illustrated guide succinctly explains how to make the most of those advantages.  The Marine Amateur Radio Guide is the first USPS book to be published by a commercial publisher and to be offered in commercial book stores world-wide.  $8.40 (plus shipping & handling)


Mariner's Compass Guide


The marine compass is still the boaters primary navigation tool, and an essential tool when all else fails.  This guide explains how to select, install, calibrate and use your compass on board your boat.  You will learn which features are most important and what will work best for you, how to deal with variation between true and magnetic north, and how to adjust your compass to remove most of the deviation caused by local magnetic influences.  This is an essential guide for all boaters. $5 (plus shipping & handling)

Introduction to Navigational Astronomy

Every mariner who ever put to sea has marveled at the millions of tiny lights in the night sky.  Can they guide your passage?  See what early sailors saw, share their wonders, dream their dreams, all with the help of this fun-packed, non-technical guide to stars, planets, and major constellations of the Northern Hemisphere.  $5 (plus shipping & handling)

Plotting and Labeling Standards Learning Guide

How do you move your boat from here to there?  Via the safest route?  In the least time?  With accurate, consistent, and rock-solid knowledge of your position?  And, how can you reconstruct and repeat your passage, or tell the oncoming watch the course to steer, speed to make, and bearings to take?  Plotting and labeling your course using standard symbols, labels, and abbreviations is the way to go.  In easy-to-understand form, here they are and how to use them. $5 (plus shipping & handling)


Introduction to Sailing

Ever wonder how a sailboat moves into the wind?  Why some sailboats are faster than others?  The basics of sailboat handling and performance are here in easy-to-understand language that will pique your curiosity and make you eager to set sail soon. $13 (plus shipping & handling)


Sight Reduction Methods

Celestial navigation using the sun, moon, stars, and planets to plot your position and course is still a vital skill for every ocean-going yachtsman, even in this day of GPS navigation.  Here is a guide to five important methods for converting your observations into the meaningful data that tells you exactly where you are.  $12.50 (plus shipping & handling)


Nautical Glossary


You're reading an interesting book about boating and come across a new word or phrase.  Where do you find the correct definition?  This handy reference provides the definitions of over 1300 nautical words and phrases used by boaters, including those found in USPS courses and publications.  It's easy to read and worth keeping handy.  $5 (plus shipping & handling)