Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is United States Power Squadrons®?
A. Organized in 1914 USPS is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects. Our members are boating families who contribute to their communities by promoting safe boating through education. We enjoy participating with our fellow members on the water and in the classroom. USPS has some 28,000 members organized into 360 squadrons across the country and in some US territories. Your membership in a local squadron includes membership in the National organization. USPS is the world's largest non-profit boating organization and has been honored by three US presidents for its civic contributions. We are America’s Boating Club™.
Q. What's in it for you?
- A great variety of classes to choose from: As a USPS member, you and your family can enroll in a great variety of advanced grades and elective courses. These courses include Seamanship, Coastal Navigation, Celestial Navigation, Weather, Sail, Engine Maintenance, Marine Electronics, and Cruising and Cruise Planning. There are evening seminars on specific topics like GPS, radar, sail trim or chart reading. In addition, USPS offers more than two dozen self study courses on such subjects as the Water Sports, Boat Insurance, Oceanography, Introduction to Sailing, Preparation for Coast Guard Licensing, and much more.
- Meeting with other boaters in your area: As a member of a local squadron (and there are approximately 360 squadrons throughout the USA) you will join with other knowledgeable boaters in your area who are familiar with the local waters, the best anchorages, marinas, dealers and boat repair shops.
- Participation in a variety of on water activities: As a USPS member you're automatically invited to join in the squadron and district cruises, rendezvous, predicted log contests, raftings and other on-water activities.
- Savings on boat insurance: There are many marine insurance companies which provide discounts to those who complete boating courses. These savings can be significant.
- Discounts: There are discounts available on paper and electronic charts, and other boating items. See Membership Benefits for the latest in discounts.
- Networking with other members throughout the USA, Canada and even more distant areas:Thinking of boating in a river, lake or ocean far from your home? USPS has a Port Captain program which will provide names and telephone numbers of local USPS members who know the territory.
- Receive the USPS magazine The Ensign and the Austin Squadron Plotter
Q. Do I need to own a boat?
A. No. In fact conversations, crewing and classes can be a wonderful way to clarify what first boat (or the next one) would be right for you. Almost all rendezvous can be enjoyed by car. Crewing for a sail race or hitching a boat ride to a rendezvous can get you on the water, and guests are welcomed by many of our skippers.
Q. Where are you located?
A. The Austin Power Squadron generally holds classes and meetings in or around Austin, since most of our members either live, work or keep their boat in the greater Austin area. We are a member of District 21, which serves all of Texas. Memberships can transfer to another Squadron if you move or you can be an Associate Member in additional Squadrons.
Q. What are the activities of USPS?
A. Each squadron's activities involve the three primary objectives of USPS: community service, continuing education, and enjoying the friendship and camaraderie of our fellow members. See Membership Benefits to learn more.
Q. What community and civic services does USPS perform?
A. Local squadrons offer boating safety courses on a regular basis to boaters in our communities. These courses are open to the public and there is no age limit for participants. USPS squadrons have offered these courses for over half a century and have educated more than 3 million boaters to date. Successful completing a USPS boating safety course meets the educational requirements for boat operation in all states and is a requirement for squadron membership. Our members also help the NOAA keep our nautical charts accurate by reporting chart corrections, and our local squadrons participate in many other community improvement projects.
Q. What social activities do members enjoy?
A. Participating both on-the-water and off with fellow members who are skilled in boating is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. On-the-water activities include cruises, rendezvous, sail races, navigation contests and even fishing derbies. Activities ashore include meetings with marine programs, parties, dinner-dances, picnics and field trips. Conversations about boating experiences and destinations are a learning process too, and can be a valuable resource in decision making on top of the fun.
Q. What educational courses are available to USPS members?
A. Our public boating course, America's Boating Course (ABC), is usually given several times a year. Times and places will be announced in this website and in the general media. Membership is not a requirement.
The basic courses of Boat Handling and Marine Navigation are taught to accommodate our new members. Advanced Marine Navigation, Offshore Navigation and Celestial Navigation are scheduled as members become eligible and interest prevails. Some of these courses need to be taken sequentially because more advanced courses are based on material taught in previous courses.
Other courses such as Marine Electronics, Cruising and Cruise Planning, Weather, Sail, Instructor Qualification, & Engine Maintenance are taught annually or may be self studied.
The location of the class depends on the number of students, their location and the location of the instructor.
Visit our Courses page for more information.
Q. How does one become a member of USPS?
A. Membership is open to those 18 years and over who are want to learn new skills and contribute time, energy, and skills to the objectives of USPS. Family members of all ages are welcome too. We encourage new boaters to start with one of the Introductory Boating courses (no longer a membership requirement), but experienced boaters may now join directly to take any class, or to serve in an activity like coop charting or vessel safety checks.
Visit our Membership page for more information.
Q. Can sailors become members?
A. Of course! The term "Power Squadrons" in our name dates to our founding in 1914 by the power boat division of the Boston Yacht Club. Following the first World War, our ranks broadened to include all types of boats, and sailors have been a major part of USPS ever since.