Commander’s Message

Boating is fun! We help others by sharing our experiences and knowledge with those who are just venturing into the world of boating; but have not prepared themselves with skills needed to be confident and proficient sailors. Our organization and members provide opportunities for socializing with boaters of similar interests and at the same time help fellow boaters to become safer and more skillful at the helm. An aside – ask your boat insurer how USPS course and seminars can save you money? A Vessel Safety Check (VSC) can be a real money saver – courtesy service not enforcement.

For new boaters, old timers, fisherman, hunters, youngsters, and human powered vessel boaters this is the time to reflect on what we all do, enjoy, and wish to do as we enjoy Coastal Florida. How and why are important. The learning experience in the classroom has changed in the digital age with on-line instruction. Electronic navigation and information sources now dominate the boating industry. There are still on-the -water skills to be learned. Operating a vessel with precision requires hands-on practice and instruction. Embracing social media venues and use of electronic means to supplement the on-the-water training are part of our Squadron.

Yes, education is only one of our important venues –we also enjoy getting together with family, friends, and members for social and on-the-water activities. . Help us spread the message: we are the premier boating organization helping people make their boating experience more enjoyable and safer.

Come to a meeting (see our events schedule) and share your ideas and experiences with other members.
Karen Gercak, AP
Fort Walton Sail and Power Squadron

Current Bridge

Karen Gercak, SN   —   Commander and Treasurer
Richard Gercak, SN-CN   —   Executive Officer
Rebecca Dodson, S   —   Education Officer
Wilbur Hugli, SN-CN   —   Administrative officer, Secretary and Asst Treasurer
Ray Morgan, SN   —   Member at Large
Veronica Morgan , AP   —   Member at Large
Chris Williams, S   —   Asst Education Officer

Vessel Safety Check

The What and The Why

The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is conducted by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or the United States Power Squadrons. The Vessel Examiner (VE) is a trained specialist, who will provide you with a free examination of your boat to verify that certain safety equipment complies with State and Federal regulations.

Vessel Examiners

We have 4 active VEs, who are available to perform a VSC for you:

  • Wil Hugli (Chairman) 863-0874
  • Lewis Rivers 321-271-8390
  • Dick Gercak 217-6303
  • Scott Moore

Is your boat ready for a Courtesy Vessel Safety Check?
Do you have all the USCG required equipment?
Please call Wil Hugli at 863-0874 or Contact Us (be sure to select “Request a VSC” from the Topic dropdown).

VSC Checklist

Items required to be on hand at a VSC Exam:

  • Registration numbers displayed
  • Registration or Documentation papers for the vessel
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) for each passenger, plus one Type IV for boats 16 feet or longer
  • Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
  • Fire Extinguisher(s)
  • Ventilation
  • Backfire Flame Control
  • Sound Producing Device
  • Navigation Lights
  • Pollution Placard
  • MARPOL Trash Placard
  • Marine Sanitation Devices
  • Navigation Rules
  • State and/ or Local Requirements
  • Overall Vessel condition

For complete list details at

Helpful Links

15 Reasons why a vessel might not pass a VSC
Locate a VE (I Want a VSC)
Take a Virtual VSC

Interested in Becoming a VE?

We are always willing to train any new member who wishes to be come a VE. There is a study book available from National USPS. To become a VE you have to take a exam and pass with a score of 80%. This exam may be taken online or given by the Commander or Chairman of the VSC program. After passing the exam you must observe 5 VSCs conducted by a current VE. You must then conduct 5 VSCs to become fully certified. Each year you must conduct at least 5 VSCs each year to maintain your active status. Completing 10 VSCs each year meets the requirements for recommendation of a Merit Mark. Please contact Chairman Wil Hugli at (850) 863-0874 if you are interested in becoming a VE.

2018 Educational Calendar

FWSPS Seminars and Courses are offered at no charge for instruction. Courses and seminars may have a textbook fee. Ask about insurance discounts!

To enroll, contact the Fort Walton Sail and Power Squadron at 850.863.0874.

Power Squadron Seminars

 Using GPS  May 21  5:30 – 7:00 pm

Fort Walton Beach

 American Red Cross CPR/AED  May 19  9:00 am – 2:00 pm

First Presbyterian Church FWB

 PFD s, VSC & Fire Demo  May 24  1:30 pm

Fort Walton Beach

 NOAA & USPS Spring Seminar  Feb 24  10:00 am – 2:30 pm

Marine Max, Panama City Beach, FL


America’s Boating Course

Florida and NASBLA required 8-hr boating course

Feb 24: Fort Walton Beach, 9 am – 3 pm

May 19:  Fort Walton Beach, 9 am – 3 pm

June 9: Fort Walton Chamber of Commerce, 9 am – 3 pm

Join Us

Who Should Join

Anyone who shares our common love of boating, has passed one of USPS® public boating courses, either the Squadron Boating Course or Boat Smart® (or equivalent*), and who is interested in advancing the objectives of the organization: the education of members, participation in civic programs, and the creation of an atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie among members.

Active members must be at least 18 years of age; there are no age considerations for family members.

Member Benefits

To find out more about the numerous benefits of being a member:
The Ensign, the official magazine of USPS
USPS Member Benefits

How to Join

Membership is by application. If you are interested in joining FWSPS, please contact Bill Hardy at 850-362-8858 or Wilbur Hugli at 850-863-0874, or Contact Us, for an application and more information about our Squadron.

Boating Course Information

Please see Courses (Public Boating Course and Seminars) for our schedule of classes, information and locations. The USPS® America’s Boating Course is also available for home study, as an online/CD or as a video. If you want to obtain this course or additional information, you may call:
USPS National Headquarters
888-FOR-USPS or 919-821-0281

If you have taken a home study (online or video) version of the USPS® course but have not taken the examination, please contact our Boating Course Chairman P/R/C Wil Hugli, SN at 850-863-0874 or Contact Us to make arrangements to take the examination.

Additional education opportunities are available through University of West Florida, Department of Continuing Education, Maritime Education,, in cooperation with USPS and Fort Walton Sail and Power Squadron.

* Equivalent Boating Courses

The following are acceptable alternatives to our Public Boating Courses:
State Courses:
Connecticut – proctored exam.
Delaware – Boating Basics, (Proctored Exam Course Only)
Louisiana – Boat Louisiana (©2002)
Massachusetts – Boating Basics Course (©2000)
New Hampshire – Boating Basics Course
New York – Safe Boating Course
North Carolina – Boater Education Course (2000), proctored exam.
Ohio – Proctored Exam Course Only
Pennsylvania – Proctored Exam Course Only
Texas – Boat Texas (©2002)
Virginia – Proctored Exam Course Only

Contact Us

By Mail

Fort Walton Sail & Power Squadron
PO Box 1461
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549-1461

By Email

By Form

(You will not be added to any mailing lists. Your information will be used only to contact you with a response.)

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