America’s Boating Club Valley Forge (ABC VF)

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America’s Boating Club Valley Forge (ABC VF) offers America’s Boating Course to the public to promote high standards of safety, seamanship and navigation. The course is for those new to boating as well as for those needing a refresher in boating skills. The course covers safety, small boat handling, use of navigational aids, rules of the road and equipment requirements. 
A Certificate of Completion is awarded when the student passes a 50-question exam, some of which are state specific. The course and exam are approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and meet the requirements of all states’ mandatory education laws. Students should be at least 14 years old.
ABC VF also offers, under the auspices of USPS, five advanced-grade courses and seven elective courses. Most are open to members and non-members. Some courses require prerequisites. ABC VF also offers a wide range of seminars. The presentation of these 2 hour “mini-courses” may be requested by members. Many of the courses and seminars are now available online.
The Educational Proficiency Award is given to those who have achieved the grade of AP and successfully completed three (3) elective courses. (AP*)
The Educational Achievement Award (SN) is given to those who have completed all the United State Power Squadron courses. 
This course is designed to help the new boater and as a refresher for the experienced boater. Topics apply to both sail and power, and include boat types and construction, safety equipment, getting under way, handling in adverse conditions, mooring and docking, proper display and use of lights, and marlinspike seamanship. This is a practical course offering knowledge that otherwise would be acquired only by long experience on the water.
The Marine Navigation course is an introduction to marine navigation on lakes, rivers and in coastal areas. It presents the use of charts, chart plotters, GPS, aids to navigation, use of the compass to obtain bearings, and determination of dead reckoned positions for use as backup if the boat’s electronics fail. The student learns to plot courses and perform calculations for determining the boat’s position during a cruise. The use of GPS to establish waypoints, courses and positions are discussed.
This course provides the student with a thorough understanding of the concept of a line of position and how it can be used to obtain a fix (crossed bearings). The use of bearings, soundings, distance off an object and radar to obtain bearings and a fix are discussed. A major focus is on methods to allow for currents, winds and tides. Marine Navigation is a prerequisite for this course.
Offshore Navigation is a practical introduction to celestial navigation for the use when operating out of sight of land. Lessons include use of the mariner’s sextant and the Nautical Almanac. The subjects of time and the use of various types of charts and plotting sheets are presented. Part of the course requirements is the use of the sextant to obtain sights (observations) of the sun and the reduction of these sights to determine actual position. Advanced Navigation is a prerequisite for this course.
CELESTIAL NAVIGATION (formerly called Navigation)
Celestial Navigation builds on the principles learned in Offshore Navigation. A more in-depth study is made of time, celestial coordinates, and the solution of the navigational triangle by several different methods to determine position. Further use of the sextant is made to secure more skill and better accuracy. As does the Offshore Navigation course, the Celestial Navigation course requires sights (observations) be made using the marine sextant. It requires sights to be taken of a planet, a star and the moon. Considerable emphasis is placed on items of interest to the offshore navigator and the development of orderly methods for carrying on the daily work of the navigator at sea.
This course teaches the steps to take before embarking on any cruise, especially an extended, long-distance cruise. It includes boat preparation, safety provisions, and fuel, water and emergency medical supplies, as well as issues of logistics that should be addressed before a cruise.
USPS Engine Maintenance familiarizes the student with inboard and outboard engines and teaches proper care and troubleshooting procedures. The course covers the four basic internal combustion engine systems (cooling, electrical, fuel, and lubricating) and the function and relationship of each.
USPS requires instructors to use effect instructional techniques to meet its main mission; that of boating education. The Instructor Development course teaches modern instructional techniques and classroom strategies that help USPS instructors effectively convey information (facts and concepts) required by boaters. This knowledge will help them enjoy boating and remain safe. The successful completion of ID is required of all who teach in the basic boat course (America’s Boat Course).
These courses cover a boat’s electrical and electronic systems. Proper wiring, grounding, electrolysis control, and batteries are included. Depth finders, marine radio telephones, radar, GPS and advanced systems for electronic navigation are also covered. Information is provided on FCC requirements for station licensing and operator permits for radiotelephones.
This course is for sailors and non-sailors alike. Topics include sailing, terminology, sailboat rigs and sail plans; boat design and hull types; sails, standing and running rigging; boat, true and apparent wind; sailing upwind and downwind; and sailing in hazardous weather.
This course explores various weather phenomena, enables the boater to read the weather map and the sky, and helps the boater to be alert to impending weather changes. Lessons include characteristics and structure of the atmosphere, basic cause of types of weather, normal and abnormal weather patterns, identification of cloud formations, meaning of cloud forms and cloud sequences, frontal systems, highs and lows, and use of radio and visual data in making local short-term forecasts. The course helps the boater to take the weather forecasts available on radio, television and NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) and create “local” forecasts useful to a boater.
The Operations Training Course explains the working of the USPS and the relationship between the squadron, district and national organizations. It includes the history and the purpose of USPS and what is expected of members, appointed officers and elected officers plus the elements of leadership. The course is required for all Bridge Members and Executive Committee members. 
USPS also offers two-hour seminars on various boating topics. The following seminars are scheduled as demand warrants. 
  • Advanced Power Boat Handling Mariners Compass
  • Anchoring Mastering the Rules of the Road
  • Basic Coastal Navigation Paddle Smart
  • Basic Weather and Forecasting Partners in Command
  • Boat Handling Under Power Practical on the Water Training
  • Boating on Rivers, Locks and Lakes Sail, Trim and Rig Tuning
  • Emergencies Onboard Tides and Currents
  • Fuel and Boating Trailering Your Boat
  • How to use a Chart Using GPS
  • Hurricanes and Boats Using VHF & VHF/DSC Marine Radio
  • Knots, Bends and Hitches
ABC VF, like all squadrons, is a non-profit organization. The charges established cover the cost of student material, examinations and overhead. It is expected that the student will make every effort to attend at least eighty percent of the class sessions and do all homework. The homework assigned should be completed to keep pace with the course. The students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussions during the courses and seminars.