students wear life jackets for safety while taking a sailing course
students wear life jackets for safety while taking a sailing course

Continuing Education...for Boaters? You Better Believe It!

By DAN Boater

The off-season is the perfect time to boost your nautical knowledge. Whether you’re a novice or experienced mariner, there is a wide variety of fun and informative classes, seminars, and courses out there right now designed to help sharpen your boating skills.

Just because it's cold outside and your boat may be in storage, that doesn’t mean you can’t brush up on your boating skills this winter. Even yachties who are fortunate enough to have their vessels in the water year-round can benefit from taking a class or two in the next few months.

From a basic boating safety course to specialty skills training—such as coastal piloting or how to use a GPS device—there are easily-accessible classes available everywhere for new and experienced boat owners alike.

A Boatload of Benefits

What’s in it for you? Whether you sign up for an introductory seminar, a refresher course or an advanced hands-on specialty class, continuing education offers you a bevy of benefits, including:

Whether the world of boating is completely new to you, or you’re interested in taking a refresher course to hone your skills, you have both in-person and online options. You can even hightail it to the Caribbean for a learning vacation. Check out these choices…


America's Boating Club Courses and Seminars

America's Boating Club (formerly the US Power Squadrons) offers a full range of educational experiences for both novice and experienced boat owners. They teach a variety of comprehensive courses and short seminars to advance your know-how of seamanship and boat handling, piloting and navigation, boat systems maintenance, weather, sailing, cruise planning, and other topics specifically created to meet the needs of today’s boat owners. America's Boating Club offers in-depth courses (usually 6-8 weeks), focused two-hour seminars, and skills certification in inland, coastal, and offshore navigation and boat operation. Mix and match to suit your education needs. With America's Boating Club, you have complete flexibility in scheduling your continuing education through classroom instruction, online courses, and on-the-water skills training.

American Sailing Association (ASA) Certifications and Online Courses

ASA is an association of sailing schools, charter companies, professional sailing instructors, and sailors, with over 300 affiliated sailing schools located throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Japan, Central America, Taiwan, China, and other far eastern countries. These accredited schools offer ASA certification to individuals who meet the requirements for a given level. To date, ASA schools have certified nearly half a million sailors!

Boatsafe Online Courses

This site offers an online NASBLA-approved Basic Boating Certification Course for all states. Study the course online (animations help keep it interesting and tips easier to remember), pass the online exam, print your certificate and you’re good to go. Boatsafe also offers a Coastal Navigation Course that uses a combination of a printed text/workbook for home study, sample and real-time chart work, online animated demonstrations and testing, and email instructor assistance.

DAN Boater Basic Life Support: CPR and First Aid Course

DAN Boater combines online self-study and instructor-led classroom training into a course designed to provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other lifesaving skills. For boaters seeking a captain's license, a certificate of training is available to indicate you have met the United States Coast Guard's training and competency requirements.

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Approved Boating Courses

No matter where you live, with a click of your mouse, you can access this Association’s online directory of NASBLA-approved state courses.

US Powerboating Courses

Prefer an on-the-water class? US Powerboating, an affiliate of US Sailing, offers a curriculum for powerboat enthusiasts of all skill levels. All courses are hands-on, on-the-water that get you out of the classroom and behind the wheel for an educational experience unlike any other. All courses are taught by Certified Powerboat Instructors and are designed to empower you with the skills and confidence you need to become a smarter and safer powerboat operator. US Powerboating’s courses are offered at nearly 150 Course Providers and Powerboat Training Centers around the country and all are open to the public.

US Sailing Safety at Sea Courses

Do you know exactly what to do if someone falls overboard from your sailboat? Do you have a plan in place to deal with heavy weather if you can’t reach a safe harbor? Are you in need of purchasing emergency communications equipment or storm sails but aren’t sure what to buy? A US Sailing Safety at Sea (SAS) Seminar will provide all the answers you need. Designed for sailors of all types and levels—cruisers and racers, novices and experts—and appropriate for a wide range of vessels, these courses are moderated or taught by experienced, lifelong sailors who include some of the top names in sailing and safety. Plus, SAS certifications are good for five years. US Sailing, which is the National Governing Body for the sport of sailing in the United States, offers three types of Safety at Sea Seminars: Coastal, Offshore and Offshore Seminar with Hands-on Training.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety Education

Courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary provide instruction at all levels—from the fundamental to the advanced—and are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors committed to the highest standards of the U.S. Coast Guard. Course categories range from “Boating Safety” and “Navigation with GPS” to “How to Read a Nautical Chart” and “Boating Skills and Seamanship for Power Boating”—and more. The site includes a Public Education Zip Code Course Finder to help you locate a class site near you. It also provides in-depth descriptions of all courses offered.


Almost every boat show offers continuing education seminars, so double your pleasure by signing up for a class or two while exploring new boats and checking out the latest and greatest marine accessories and services. Here’s a sampling of winter boat shows that offer a wide array of courses—ranging from “Marine Weather and Forecasting” and “Anchoring and Mooring” to “Understanding Diesel Engines” and “Lines and Docking.”

Toronto International Boat Show

January 17 - 26 in Toronto, ON

San Diego Sunroad Boat Show

January 23 - 26 in San Diego, CA

Baltimore Boat Show

January 23 - 26 in Baltimore, MD

Seattle Boat Show

January 24 – February 1 in Seattle, WA

New England Boat Show

February 8 - 16 in Boston, MA

Miami International Boat Show

February 13 – 17 in Miami, FL

Atlantic City Boat Show

February 26 – March 1 in Atlantic City, NJ



LTD Sailing

Based out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, offers week-long live-aboard sailing courses designed to provide a hands-on learning experience. Courses are offered aboard premium, modern charter boats and entail exploring one of the best sailing destinations in the world. The Basic Cruise and Learn course is perfect for beginner to intermediate sailors. For the more experienced, an Advanced Cruise and Learn course is also available.

Offshore Sailing School

Located in the British Virgin Islands, Offshore Sailing School is owned and operated by power couple Steve and Doris Colgate. Steve is a former Olympian, America’s Cup sailor and creator of the award-winning Colgate 26. Doris founded the National Women’s Sailing Association and Women’s Sailing Foundation. Teaching faculty here are full-time employees who hold Coast Guard licenses and US Sailing instructor certifications. Sailing courses run the gamut from “Learn to Sail” and “Learn to Race” to “Learn to Cruise” and “Learn Passage Making.” For powerboat enthusiasts, “The Fast Track to Power Cruising” course instills the knowledge and confidence to move from runabouts to big cruising yachts.