US Powerboating Certification Classes

Focused on Skills & Knowledge
The Shearwater University Powerboating school is exceptional in its quality of instruction, highly refined skills procedures, and student-centered customization of instruction - on our boat or yours.  

Train on Your Boat:
Customized to Your Boat, Your Background, and Your Goals.

No Boat? No Problem! 
One of our Charter partners will provide the boat for your class - a variety to choose from to meet your goals.

Cruising Powerboat Foundations

This class gives you the platform for safely operating your boat, maneuvering with skill, and open water cruising.

  1. Cruising Powerboat Systems:  Understand and effectively operate all your boats systems.  Includes pre-cruise checks, basic maintenance, safety, and recommended upgrades:
    • Engine Systems
    • Other mechanical systems
    • Electrical Systems
    • Bilge Systems
    • House/Living Systems
  2. Close Quarters Maneuvering:  Train for outstanding skills to maneuver your boat with full control in tight quarters, in any conditions.
  3. Docking Mastery:  Enjoy the substantial benefits of Shearwater University's famed Docking Mastery training.  Our skills standard is "two people, one line, any conditions, full control!".
  4. Day Cruising:  Now that you are safely out of the marina and under way, enjoy day cruising as you soak up your skills and begin to enjoy your boat on the Salish Sea.

Your classroom is your boat, your marina (or other requested location).  Tuition is all-inclusive with instruction, materials and Certifications for up to 4 students on the boat.

Prerequisites:  Completion or concurrent enrollment in Navigation Essentials Online.


San Juan Immersion Cruising
Complete your Basic Powerboat Cruising Certification

Now that you can operate, maneuver and dock your boat with skill and confidence, you're ready to hit the islands and earn your US Powerboating Basic Powerboat Cruising Certification.  This class immerses you and your crew in the islands of the Salish Sea to accomplish skills & knowledge for safe, confident and enjoyable cruising:

  • Navigation & Piloting: Apply the skills & knowledge you learned in Navigation Essentials for trip planning, route plotting, and to safely find your way through the rocks, reefs, tides and currents in the complex islands & passages of the Salish Sea. Boats go aground and go down every day on the Salish Sea - that need not be you!
  • Anchoring:  Learn to choose the right anchorage for the conditions and your boat & ground tackle.  Our anchor setting procedures keep your boat stuck through the night, even in howling winds.  Learn to monitor the anchor through the night using both conventional and electronic tools & procedures.
  • Mooring Buoys & Mooring Cables:  Getting on and off without mishaps.
  • VHF Communications:  Use your radio right - proper protocols for hailing, emergency calls, specific channel usages, weather radio, and routine communications.
  • Maneuvering & Docking Advancements:  Prepare for stronger conditions and difficult situations in unfamiliar marinas.  Upgrade your skills for the "finesse" that will make you the masters of the marina.
  • Crew Overboard Rescue:  Prevention is best, but when it happens, have your skills in place to: reunite with your wet, cold crew member quickly & effectively, and then to get them back on board, even if unconscious.
  • Safety & Emergency Procedures:  Be ready to prevent and abate emergency situations that may occur out on the water - from swamping & grounding to fire and to loss of engine or steering.

Your Tuition is All-Inclusive of:

  • Four full days of immersion cruising training on the Salish Sea
  • Up to four students on the boat
  • All instructional materials and Certifications


Additional days are optional to up the fun factor and provide extra time and practice to get comfortable with cruising.

Inshore Powerboat Cruising Certification Class

  • Qualify for the International Proficiency Certificate and charter Cruise worldwide.
  • Our Class also prepares you for the rigors of the Inside Passage
Advance your cruising skills to the next horizon and prepare for extended cruises through the Salish Sea, Inside Passage and beyond.
Includes the Night Operations Endorsement.

Course Content:

  • Cruising larger powerboats for longer distances within sight of land
  • Deepen your systems understanding, preparations, and troubleshooting for larger, more complex powerboat systems and longer voyages
  • Planning and provisioning for longer cruises
  • Application of advanced navigation skills for planning, plotting, and piloting - keeping your boat safe through complex waters
  • GPS chart plotter for route construction and failsafe route following
  • Advanced anchoring techniques, including dual anchors, Mediterranean mooring, and an enhanced stern shore tie procedure for the Inside Passage
  • Advanced docking strategies for challenging scenarios and stronger conditions
  • Emergency preparedness and incident management for remote locations
  • Advanced crew overboard recovery techniques for day and night
  • Night Operations training, including night run planning, lights, hazards mitigation, piloting in the dark & fog, and radar navigation, entering a marina at night



  • Six days of immersive, advanced cruising training 
  • We cross the border to navigate customs and train in the Canadian Islands
  • Option to add days for a more relaxed, playful learning experience
  • Contact us for custom scheduling.  The earlier you schedule, the more options you have.

Custom Instruction on Your Powerboat

Develop the skills you need to safely operate, maneuver and cruise your personal powerboat - large or small.  Skills focus is whatever you need, and curriculum is customized to your background, your boat, and your goals:

  • Close quarters maneuvering & docking - Our highly refined strategies put you in full control of your boat in any conditions, with just two people and one line.
  • Anchoring techniques - from ground tackle, to anchorage selection, to setting the anchor for a secure, safe night
  • Crew overboard recovery - for any situation
  • Applied navigation & piloting - based on the skills taught in our Navigation Essentials and Coastal Navigation classes
  • Night Operations Endorsement - skills & safety for after dark, caught in fog, and other reduced visibility conditions
  • You name it!!

Prerequisites:  Exactly where you are in your powerboating skills and experience.

Venu:  Your boat out of your marina, or a charter boat, or anywhere in the Salish Sea.

Scheduling:  Contact us for custom scheduling

Your Instructors

With the Best Practices in Maritime and Best Practices in Eduction in mind, our instructors are uniquely talented and focused on your best path and process toward the high level of skills necessary to safely and confidently cruise the Salish Sea, Inside Passage, and anywhere in the world.  


Phyllis Woolwine

Phyllis Woolwine, AKA Captain Wooly, is a US Coast Guard licensed Captain, US Powerboating Certified Cruising Powerboating Instructor, and National Board Certified Teacher.  She has spent her life on the sea, plying all parts of the Inside Passage.  Captain Wooly is also a career professional educator. For over 30 years - both on and off the water - she has taught all types and ages of learners, in the classroom, on the sea, in the wilderness, in universities, high schools and private settings.  

Mark Hersh

Mark has been operating all sizes of boats for most of the decades of his life.  At Shearwater University, he has become a highly sought-after instructor, serving every kind of student on every kind of boat.  Your knowledge of your boat's systems, your ability to maneuver, dock and operate your boat will grow rapidly in the time you spend with him.