Even if you were born on board a boat, there’s probably more knowledge and skills you could gain to help you have more fun next summer. Whatever your interest might be, whether you are a novice hoping to get started or you’re already an expert, there are many learning resources available.

At Canadian Yachting magazine, one of our most important partnerships is with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS). If you’re new to boating and don’t know about CPS, they are a national organization, operating in both official languages and they are all about boating knowledge.

There are CPS ‘Power Squadrons’ in every area of Canada and they all offer courses and education, much of it available in classroom settings during the winter. CPS instructors are volunteers from the individual squadrons but they are delivering outstanding and professionally created training materials supplied through the head office and the quality levels are maintained to the highest standards.

I’ve taken courses from different squadrons, each delivered by volunteer instructors and yet, the quality of instruction itself was very impressive.

CPS offer courses from introductory level to very advanced. You can start with courses like The Boating Course or take the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) course; no prior knowledge is needed. For children and grandchildren, CPS also has the PCOC for Youth course designed for ages 8-12.

At more advanced levels is the Seamanship (Formerly Piloting) course that focuses on navigation and the skills needed to cope with a variety of hazards. That can lead to the Advanced Piloting course for short duration trips out of sight of land or other courses of study in offshore (open coast) navigation, plus specific electronics courses in the use of GPS, Electronic Charting and RADAR for Pleasure Craft.

CPS also offers the Maritime Radio Course, ROC (M) and more.

The Canadian Yachting Association (CYA), proudly supported by Canadian Yachting magazine, also offers a wide range of courses

CYA focuses on on-the-water instruction for many of its courses generally available through either yacht clubs or sailing school across Canada.

CYA also trains and fields Canada’s Olympic sailors, the Canadian Sailing Team.

Many of the CYA courses are geared to bring people into boating and its Learn To Sail, Learn To Cruise, Learn To Windsurf and Learn To Power courses are all very popular.

CYA also has navigation courses, PCOC courses and a radio operator certificate course.

For more experienced and advanced racers and cruisers, there is the Offshore Personal Survivor course as well as many courses in Coaching, Instruction and Race officiating.

If you prefer to learn at your own pace and in the privacy of your own home, there are privately developed learning resources available. ‘Powerboat Docking’ offered through Boating With Dawsons will be of interest. Doug Dawson and his wife Brenda come from a family of lifelong boaters with a marina history dating back to 1842. The Dawsons have driven and sailed almost every imaginable kind of boat and have developed techniques for handling and docking all sizes of boats with all drive systems.

As a reader service, Canadian Yachting magazine has further information on the Dawsons' own “written from scratch” e-Lessons.

Want to see someone really doing it?

‘Informed Boater’ is a web-based boating video service offering single-topic videos on all aspects of boating. Topics include: Boat Handling (power - inboard and outboard and sail), Boating Knowledge and Skills (what equipment to have and how to use it) as well as Boat and Equipment Maintenance.

Again, as a reader service, Canadian Yachting magazine has further information on the Informed Boater series at

Many of the learning resources and courses mentioned in this article are quite affordable and some, like the Informed Boater videos are as little as $9.95.

This winter, while you are daydreaming about boating next summer anyway, put the time to good use and take a course, read an e-Lesson or watch a video!

Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS).

Canadian Yachting Association


Informed Boater

By Andy Adams