Watchung Sail and Power Squadron
a unit of United States Power Squadrons®
Come for the boating education . . . . Stay for the Friends SM
You have joined Watchung Sail Power Squadron, part of United States Power Squadrons, the nation’s preeminent boating education organization. Your membership opens up to you a broad range of opportunities to develop and sharpen your boating and other skills, to become involved in USPS public service activities, and to have lots of fun in the company of a growing family of like-minded people. These opportunities don’t require a great deal of work. All you need is a willingness to actively participate in your squadron’s programs and activities.
The information in this welcome will help you to get started on your USPS adventure. It is intended to provide you with a basic understanding of USPS and your local squadron. Here we will provide introductory information about who we are, what we do and the benefits of membership.
You can expect to learn a great deal more about USPS over time through your continuing participation in classes and squadron activities. To help you along the way, an experienced squadron member has volunteered to help you to become involved in USPS in any way you prefer. At the same time, don’t hesitate to ask any of your fellow squadron members anytime you need help to understand something about USPS or our local squadron. As with so many new members in the past, we are confident that you will discover that USPS offers a rich return on the investment of your time. Once again, welcome!
Who We Are
Watchung Sail and Power Squadron is one of 440 local units of United States Power Squadrons. Founded in 1914, USPS is dedicated to safe boating through education. Today, USPS claims more than 45,000 members nationwide. We are a tax-exempt 501c(3) educational organization. As such, members who incur expenses in the performance of USPS or local squadron duties may deduct such expenses, including dues, when filing their federal income tax returns.
What We Do
The words surrounding the USPS triangular emblem describe the basic purposes of USPS: educational, social and public service. These are our common interests and our shared goals. We are committed to boating safety through self-education. We pursue this goal by offering a broad range of boating courses to our members. We deliver on our public service commitment in two ways. First, we offer the best available public boating course. Second, we strive to improve general boating safety through various public awareness programs. For example, through our Cooperative Charting Program, USPS works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to keep the nation’s nautical charts up to date. USPS is a major source for corrections to these charts. And we are committed to promoting a congenial atmosphere in which long-lasting friendships develop and pleasant experiences, both on and off the water, can be shared. Together with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, we conduct voluntary vessel safety examinations. Such checks are intended to ensure that the vessel has all of the required safety devices – proper number of life jackets, clean backfire flame arrestor, flares, and other mandatory items.
How We Are Organized
USPS is organized into three tiers - the National Headquarters, District organizations, and the local Squadrons. First and foremost, USPS is a “bottom up” organization. This means that the local squadron is the most important element in USPS. The primary function of the national and district organizations is to guide and assist the local squadrons. They also perform certain organization-wide functions (e.g., national advertising, joint ventures with external organizations, etc.) on behalf of all squadrons. A team of officers, referred to as the Bridge, governs each level of USPS. With the assistance of various committee members and chairpersons, they are responsible for day-to-day operations of their respective departments. The Bridge consists of a Commander, Executive Officer, Educational Officer, Administrative Officer, Treasurer, and Secretary.
Our national organization is responsible for maintaining nationwide membership records, for developing, producing, and distributing our educational course materials and for the other responsibilities of our organization at the national level. Our National Headquarters is located at 1504 Blue Ridge Road, P.O. Box 30423, Raleigh, NC, 27622. The phone number for National is (888) 367-8777. The FAX number is (919) 836-0813. The World Wide Web is: USPS. USPS members can log onto a web site USPS to access information of specific interest to USPS members. For instance, you can find out where to fly your USPS ensign, or the Watchung squadron burgee. You can find information about educational courses. When logging on to the member site, no password is necessary.
The next level is the District organizations. They are responsible for communicating information between the local squadrons and headquarters. They also assist the local squadrons by coordinating common activities among the various squadrons within the district. Watchung squadron is one of sixteen- squadrons in District 4, which comprises the northern New Jersey/metropolitan New York area. The District holds monthly council meetings, attended by the Bridge officers of the local squadrons. At these meetings information of interest to all squadrons is disseminated, educational activities and district wide social and public service activities are planned. Twice yearly, the district organization conducts conferences open to all members of each squadron. These conferences include both valuable educational content and social activities. They are a great way to become further acquainted with fellow members in our squadron and across the district. Among other programs of interest to all members, the conference agenda features workshops to review courses and programs offered by USPS. Plans for these courses are reviewed and suggestions for improvement are forwarded to national headquarters. A number of changes in National policy have resulted from suggestions that originated at District conferences. More information is available on the D- 4 Website.
Watchung Sail and Power Squadron
Like the national and district organizations, Watchung squadron has its own Bridge. These officers, together with additional elected Members at Large, make up the Executive Committee that conducts the squadron’s affairs much like a board of directors. Bridge officers are elected by the general membership to a one-year term of office. Our squadron is organized to enable us to pursue the objectives stated above. Our educational mission is achieved through the Squadron Educational Department, which arranges and conducts our public Boating courses, as well as the many courses we offer only to our members, and various seminars open to the public. Headed by the Squadron Educational Officer, it is composed of a group of course committees—one for each of our educational offerings. To learn about available courses, start dates, and course requirements, contact the Squadron Educational Officer or log on to our squadron web site. Members are also advised of course starting dates through our quarterly squadron publication, The Starboard Watch. There is a brief overview of courses at the end of this document.
Responsibility for most of the squadron’s non-educational functions are divided between the squadron Executive Officer, who handles functions external to the squadron (outward facing), and the squadron Administrative Officer, who is responsible for internal functions. Our public service mission is carried out through both our public Boating courses and the work of the committees that report to the squadron Executive Officer. These committees help to improve boating safety through public awareness initiatives, the USPS Cooperative Charting program, participation in public boat shows, and other activities. In Watchung Sail and Power Squadron, the Executive Officer is also responsible for acquiring new members, and for promoting member involvement in squadron life. The job of planning and conducting the squadron’s social and boating programs rests primarily with the committees reporting to the Squadron Administrative Officer. These committees organize a wide range of programs and social events, which include group boating activities, such as cruises and rendezvous, the annual picnic, dinners, meeting programs, bus trips, and others. We are always looking for new and different ideas for social activities, and help in organizing them. The Administrative Department is also responsible for the squadron publication, called The Starboard Watch. The squadron includes many other committees and functions, including Historian, Photographer, Property and Supply Officer, and many more. Whatever your particular skills or interests, you can be sure we can put them to good use within the squadron, and we encourage your participation. We particularly value your input concerning your needs as a new member. You can find other squadron committees and their members listed in the squadron roster.
How We Communicate With You
We primarily communicate information and news to you through our monthly meetings, mailings, e-mail and our Squadron web site. Four times a year, you will receive a copy of The Starboard Watch, the official Squadron publication, in the mail. It contains reminders of upcoming meetings, classes, squadron events, interesting articles and much more. It is essential that we have your correct mailing address. If you do not receive a mailing in the month following the start of your membership, contact the Membership Chairman to ensure that we have your correct mailing address. Notify the Membership Chairman of any changes to ensure continuity of service. A growing number of members have a fax number or E-mail address. If you have a fax or E-mail address, please be sure to provide them to the Squadron Membership Chairman. On occasion, we may have the need to contact members using E-mail, fax, or telephone.
Squadron members and their spouses or significant others can attend general membership meetings. (except July and August) The Squadron provides a light dinner starting at 7 PM at reasonable cost. This permits some members to arrive directly from work. At these meetings, the Bridge Officers and committee chairpersons make brief reports to the squadron regarding upcoming events, educational opportunities, and other items of general interest to members. Following the short business meeting, there is generally a program of interest to the members, such as a speaker from an engine manufacturer, a marine surveyor, interesting video programs, etc. The evening is capped with socializing and boat talk. Dress is informal at these meetings, as some members come directly from their jobs. You will notice some members wearing USPS blazers. (See Uniforms below for additional information on this subject.) You should try to attend the next meeting with your spouse to receive your USPS Membership Certificate and USPS lapel pin. This is where you will get to meet and know your fellow members and their spouses. Our members are eager to meet you and want you to feel welcome. You will also notice that many members are wearing a special squadron name tag. If you would like to order one, you may do so at a meeting or by calling the squadron Property Officer, whose name can be found in the squadron roster. The current cost is $8 and it will take a month or so to obtain.
The squadron roster is printed once each year in March. Your name and information will appear when it is next printed. In the interim, new members are introduced to the squadron in our monthly publication, The Starboard Watch. On the inside cover of the roster, you will find the Squadron activity calendar. In the back of the roster are statistics about squadron members. Notice that a significant number of members do not own boats.
This is the national USPS publication and is sent to every USPS member bi-monthly. It contains messages from national headquarters, information of interest to all USPS members, and many interesting boating articles submitted by USPS members from around the country. You should receive your first issue in the month following your membership. If it is not received, contact the Membership Chairman.
The Starboard Watch
This is our squadron publication. It is published quarterly and includes meeting dates, notification of events, news articles, photos, stories, and other items of interest to our members. You are encouraged to submit articles that would be interesting to fellow boaters and squadron members.
Some of Your Membership Benefits an updated list can be found on the USPS national website
The Best Boating Education Available In the World
Safe boating through education is fundamental to what USPS is about. We offer a comprehensive group of courses to USPS members. You received a description of USPS courses when you enrolled in the Boating course. Descriptions are also found on our squadron web site.
When you receive your USPS certificate, you should notify your insurance company of your membership. Many coverage providers extend premium discounts to USPS members. If you are in need of an insurance policy for your boat, consider that USPS has a relationship with a national insurance company, and provides very competitive rates for an excellent policy. You can get a quote through the USPS Internet site, or by calling USPS at (888) 367-8777. In addition, be sure to advise your insurer as you complete other USPS courses. Some insurers provide additional discounts as your boating education expands.
Boat/US Membership Discount
When you passed the Boating course, you received a packet from Boat/US offering a free one-year membership. Should you decide to continue your membership in Boat/US at the end of the first year, you will receive a 50% discount as a USPS member if, when renewing, you indicate that you are a USPS member. Although Boat/US has no affiliation with USPS, it has created the Boat/US Foundation that lobbies in behalf of all boaters, has an interesting quarterly publication, provides a limited amount of free towing, and offers other services to its members.
Free Admission to the New York Boat Show
USPS members presenting a valid membership card at the Information Desk are admitted free on the first Monday following the opening of the New York Boat Show.
USPS members receive a discounted subscription rate to Soundings, a premiere boating publication.
Towing Service Discounts
You receive discounted membership with SEA TOW and VESSEL ASSIST towing services.
You May Propose Others for USPS Membership
As a USPS member, you may propose others for membership. Why not consider proposing your family members for membership. USPS provides special reduced-cost membership categories for family members. Ask our Membership chairperson for details. USPS bylaws require that proposed members have passed an examination to ensure at least minimal boating knowledge. If anyone you know has successfully completed any National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating course (including the USPS Boating course or the Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating course), the certification of completion will satisfy our admission criteria. If someone you know has many years of boating experience, yet has not completed an approved boating course, he or she need not sit in a class, but may obtain and read the course manual and then take the exam. Note that at this time in the state of New Jersey, one must have at least eight hours of classroom instruction and successfully complete a proctored exam to receive a New Jersey State Police certificate. If your acquaintance has limited boating education or experience, he or she can enroll in our next Boating course. We offer these twice yearly in two locations. Contact our Membership chairperson for additional details.
Other Useful Things You Should Know
When you receive your USPS certificate, you will notice that it contains a set of small squares around the border. This is where you will attach certification stickers as you complete USPS courses. You will be advised of the availability and start dates for our various courses in the squadron monthly mailings and through our web site. Your next course should be “Seamanship.” This course picks up where the Boating course ended. You have received an outline of the many courses available to you as a member. Generally, the Elective Courses, such as Weather, Sail, Engine Maintenance, Marine Electronics, Cruise Planning, and Instructor Development may be taken in any order, since understanding them does not depend on knowledge gained from previous courses. By contrast, Advanced Grade courses: Seamanship, Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Junior Navigation and Navigation, must be taken in sequence, since they progressively build upon the knowledge acquired in prerequisite courses. When a course that interests you is announced, please contact the appropriate course chairperson promptly, as course materials must be ordered from headquarters.
Although you are entitled to wear a USPS uniform, it is never required, and you may choose not to invest in one. You may, however, want to consider wearing a navy blue blazer and gray slacks, with white shirt and dark tie to squadron functions. Women members may want to wear a gray skirt with their blazer. This is the informal uniform of USPS. You can obtain a patch with USPS emblem and, optionally, your grade level to wear on your jacket pocket. This patch is available with a backing that slips into your breast pocket. At meetings, you will see some members wearing this on their blazer. Any Bridge Officer can tell you where to obtain a USPS blazer pocket patch. The wearing of slacks and a USPS or WSPS golf shirt, available from the Property Officer, is common dress for meetings and most casual activities.
Members who perform work for the Squadron throughout the year can earn a Merit Mark. When you contribute time and effort to the Squadron, perhaps by actively serving on a committee, helping to teach the Boating course, helping to organize or run a squadron event, or performing other significant service to the Squadron, the Squadron Commander may recommend to the USPS Chief Commander that you be awarded a Merit Mark. Members who have earned twenty-five Merit Marks are no longer required to pay dues, and are known as Life Members. We have several in our squadron. You can, however, earn only one Merit Mark each year. In addition to the personal satisfaction of a job well done, Merit Marks are the only “pay” we receive for our efforts. If you should choose to obtain the USPS uniform, Merit Mark insignia are worn on the uniform sleeve. The number of Merit Marks you have earned is also listed next to your name in the Squadron roster.
Flying the USPS Ensign and Squadron Burgee
As a USPS member, you may fly the USPS Ensign, a picture of which is displayed on the cover of the Squadron roster. You may also fly the Watchung Sail and Power Squadron burgee. Our Flag and Etiquette Officer can explain how and where to fly them on your particular boat. You can also find this information in Chapman Piloting (Elbert S. Mahoney), the “boater’s bible.” Another extensive source is the USPS Learning Guide, “How to fly Flags” available from headquarters. This publication is listed on the inside cover of the Boating course manual. Much flag flying information is also available on our national USPS web site. or the LINKS page of our squadron web site. Incidentally, Chapman was one of the founders of USPS. You can purchase a squadron burgee through the squadron Property and Supply Officer, who frequently brings them, along with other squadron logo merchandise, to squadron meetings.
The USPS Educational Fund is a foundation that was established many years ago for the purpose of aiding USPS with its educational needs. USPS does not control the foundation, but receives grants of money from the fund for its educational needs. For example, the fund subsidizes the production and printing of our various course materials, which in turn reduces the cost to our members. The fund grants many thousands of dollars to USPS each year. Squadron members throughout the country make donations to the fund. Our squadron donates one dollar per member each year to this fund from its own educational Fund.
Wherever there is water in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Virgin Islands, there are USPS Port Captains who provide information and local knowledge to our members when they travel or cruise outside their home waters. Members can find a listing of Port Captains on the USPS member web page. Port Captains stand ready to assist fellow USPS members with information regarding repairs, where to obtain provisioning, where good restaurants and hotels can be found, what to do and see, and other information a cruising USPS member may desire. They are a wonderful resource to members whether they are traveling on water or on land. It's like having your own personal travel agent where ever you travel or plan to travel.
Now that you have a Squadron roster, you have a wealth of information and experience available to you. Whatever information you need regarding boating, there are members who have it. If you've got questions, we've got answers. So come to a meeting or other squadron event and ask some questions, or make some phone calls. If you have a question about your engine, start by calling the chairman of the Engine Maintenance course. If you want to know something about GPS, Loran, or VHF radio, call the Marine Electronics course chairman. If it’s a question about a sailboat, contact the Sail course chairman. You get the idea. Start thinking about areas you want to learn more about. Talk to fellow members to get their ideas. Check out any squadron courses that may cover those subjects. Ask about the supplemental education programs called Learning Guides. Sign up for a course! The best way to get to know fellow members is to attend meetings and serve on one of the many committees listed in the roster. Look over the committees. There may be a committee that is a natural fit for your skills, interests, or background. Or maybe there’s one that can help you develop skills in a whole new area. If you are willing to serve on one of the committees, let one of the Bridge Officers know. Most committees require little time, and the committee chairperson is always eager to have additional members. You will be welcomed with open arms by any committee.
You are now part of a great family-oriented organization. Everything we do involves the family, from picnics to boating activities to meetings. In order to get the most out of USPS, you need to put something in. Get involved in activities! Take courses! USPS has a lot to offer you. All you have to do is reach out and take it. The next step is up to you. Welcome Aboard!
Watchung Sail and Power Power Squadron