Helmsman Training

What is the RYA Inland Waterway Helmsman’s Course?

The basic skills of canal-boating are very quickly learnt - the first timer can set off on holiday confident that they have had all the help and instruction they need from a qualified handover team.

However, studying for the Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate can give extra confidence to the first timer or develop the skills of even an experienced boater.


What is the RYA Inland Waterway Helmsman’s Course?



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Our fully qualified Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor will spend either 1 or 2 days with a maximum of 3 pupils teaching you how to get more out of your boating. Challenges will be developed into skills as you learn to master the boat and truly enjoy the canal experience.

The Syllabus
• Boat Handling
• Personal safety
• Basic mechanical routines
• Locks
• Bridges & tunnels
• The canal environment

The same course and syllabus is covered whether you attend for one day or two. The extra day gives opportunity for more practice, but also the chance to truly enjoy the experience of staying on the boat overnight. The course fees include accommodation (based on sharing a twin cabin) and all light refreshments, but exclude main meals - these will be taken at canal-side hostelries.

Your Instructor

Bob Strachan has over 60 years of canal experience. Chosen by the ITV programme Waterworld to demonstrate good teaching practice, his course was also described as “a very well run course and centre” by the RYA inspectors. Bob is well qualified, and delights in passing on his skills and wealth of boating knowledge in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

International Cruising

If you wish to cruise on international inland waterways on a British registered craft, the ICC (International Certificate of Competence) is recognised throughout Europe.

Completion of the RYA Helmsman’s Course is recognised as the practical part of the test, with the CEVNI (Code European des Voies de Navigation Intérieure) as the theoretical part.


The CEVNI test is a short multiple choice paper which our instructor, operating as an RYA approved training centre, is able to administer. A book is also available from the RYA regarding this test which has a sample paper at the back.

How to Book

Phone 07887 887942 to check course availability and make your reservation.

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