Skills & Seamanship
The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boating Skills and Seamanship
(BS&S) course is a comprehensive course designed for both
the experienced and the novice boater. The course consists
of 6 required two-hour lessons plus elective modules, providing
up-to-date knowledge for handling boats in all conditions.
- WHICH BOAT IS FOR YOU? -- boater's language;
types of boats; outboard motors and sterndrives; hull design;
uses of boats; other power plants; materials for constructing
boats; your intended use; the Coast Guard Customer Infoline;
marine surveyors; buying a boat.
- EQUIPMENT FOR YOUR BOAT -- requirements
for your boat; your boat's equipment; legal considerations;
substance abuse; boating accident reports; Courtesy Marine
- TRAILERING YOUR BOAT -- legal considerations;
practical considerations; the towing vehicle; balancing
the load; handling your trailer; pre-departure checks; preparing
to launch; launching; retrieving; storing your boat and
trailer; theft prevention; Zebra mussels; float plan.
- HANDLING YOUR BOAT -- leave with a full
tank; fueling your boat; your boat's propeller; cars and
boats; twin screws; jet drives; loading your boat; getting
started; leaving a pier; "man" overboard; docking;
mooring to a permanent anchor; anchoring; towing a skier;
heavy weather; small boat safety.
- YOUR "HIGHWAY" SIGNS -- protection
of ATONs; buoyage systems; waterway marks; how waterways
are marked; light characteristics; chart symbols; light
structures; lights on bridges; electronic aids to navigation;
a word to the wise; navigation publications.
- THE RULES YOU MUST FOLLOW -- two sets
of rules; to whom do the rules apply; what is a vessel;
the general responsibility rule; general considerations;
conduct in narrow channels; traffic separation schemes;
vessel traffic services; stand-on or give-way; rules for
special vessels; risk of collision; bend signals; restricted
visibility; vessel lights and shapes; vessels at anchor;
diving operations; distress signals; drawbridge signals;
- PILOTING YOUR BOAT -- piloting tools;
maps and charts; chart features; your chart's general information
block; other charted information; your magnetic compass;
position on the earth's surface; locating a point on a chart;
distance on the earth's surface; measuring distance; course
plotting; sources of compass error; correcting a compass
reading; positioning; speed-time-distance; dead reckoning;
practice your art.
- POWERING YOUR BOAT -- types of marine
engines; marine engines; selecting a propeller; induction
systems; ignition systems; flame arresters; cooling systems;
gasoline considerations; batteries; maintenance; winterizing
your boat; spring fitting-out; troubleshooting.
- LINES AND KNOTS FOR YOUR BOAT -- line
or rope; rope materials; kinds of rope; measuring rope;
selecting your ropes; care of rope; making up line; knots,
bends, and hitches; splices; securing lines; dipping the
- WEATHER AND BOATING -- sources of weather
information; wind and boating; wind and waves; understanding
weather; weather and heat; fog; non-frontal weather.
- YOUR BOAT'S RADIO -- radios used on
boats; functions of radios; licenses; selecting your VHF-FM
radio; installation; operating your VHF-FM; maintain a radio
watch; channels have special purposes; some "no nos";
copies of the rules; calling another station; procedure
words; phonetic alphabet; routine radio check; distress,
urgency, and safety calls; crew training.
- INLAND BOATING -- types of inland waters;
inland navigation; inland seamanship; river currents; maintaining
inland waterways; dams; locks; river charts; commercial
traffic; before you go.
- THE REST OF OUR STORY -- small boat
safety; personal watercraft; hypothermia; motorboats and
sailboats; carbon monoxide poisoning; float plan; U.S. Coast
Guard District Offices; instructions for using a course
plotter; metric conversion system.
Many insurance companies will offer discounts on boat insurance
to individuals who successfully complete this course.
Individuals who successfully complete the course and exam
are awarded certificates and cards.