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Narrowboat Skills Centre - Call us 7 days a week: 0116 442 2326

Why choose the Narrowboat Skills Centre:

Narrowboat Skills Centre courses montage

Since its formation the Narrowboat Skills Centre has built a great reputation for delivering high quality narrowboating and helmsman courses.

Our friendly, approachable and experienced team, partnered with the ideal location and great facilities make us one of the premier inland waterways training centres in the UK.

At our 2017 review the RYA inspector described the Narrowboat Skills Centre (NBSC) as: “A first class training centre with an excellent training vessel”

Narrowboat Skills Centre - Who do we work with:

At the Narrowboat Skills Centre our typical customers come in a number of guises. No matter what level you are at, we have a course to suit your requirements.

First-time Narrowboaters, New Buyers:

Our Own Dedicated Training Vessel

As well as great advice and guidance on how to aquire the best boat for your needs, at the Narrowboat Skills Centre we offer experience days aboard our dedicated training vessel, Gwendoline May, in order for you to get off to the best possible start when you either buy or hire your own narrowboat.

You've hired a boat or bought your own and want to use it safely:

Courses for all levels of experience

Whether you are worried you may have fallen into bad habits or if being properly qualified is your goal, then our RYA recognised courses should fit the bill.

Choice of Courses

Choose from a two day Inland Waterways Helmsman course or, for more experienced boaters, a one day Assessment course, both held aboard our dedicated training vessel, Gwendoline May or, by request, aboard your own boat.

Debdale Wharf, the perfect learning location

We are easy to find!

We are a great choice of training provider because we offer so much all in one easy to reach location.  Easy to reach from all parts of the country, NBSC is fortunate in being able to offer one of the widest ranges of narrowboating experiences to be found in what is a remarkably quiet stretch of canal anywhere in the UK.

Unique Location, Experiential Training

Our helmsman courses typically take in swing bridges, road bridges, an aqueduct, wide locks, a tunnel, winding holes and occasionally the renowned Foxton staircase of narrow locks – just 20 minutes from our home mooring. Few, if any, other training centres can offer such variety in order for you to learn or enhance your boating skills.

Great Classroom Training too!

Choice of Courses, Expert Instructors

As well as on-the-water training, Narrowboat Skills Centre offer especially great shore-based courses in our own dedicated classroom. Our instructors come from a rather wide range of backgrounds and have all been selected for their in-depth subject knowledge. Starting with an expanded RYA recognised Diesel Engine & Boat Maintenance course, we also offer courses on Boat Buying, Fitting-Out, Living Aboard, Canal Cooking (yes really) and not least of course, Phil Speight’s renowned classes on signwriting and Roses & Castles.

Can We Help You?

Finally, if you don’t find the course you are looking for or a day to suit your needs, please do ring us on 0116 442 2326 and we will do all we can to accomodate your requirements.

Latest News:

Student Reviews

Attended this course at Debdale Marin, can honestly say both myself and my husband thoroughly enjoyed it. Phil is absolutely fantastic, he is informative and helpful guiding us beginners to be able to produce a passable painting to take home. Would definitely recommend this course to anyone with a passing interest in painting and definitely to anyone looking to add their own personal touch to their own boat. Thank you Phil for your patience and for imparting a small amount of your skill and knowledge.
Theresa & Steve – Canal Art
A revelation - my retirement plans might just need re-doing now. I'm a convert to the Inland Waterways.
Roy – RYA Helmsmans
We both agreed on the way home that the whole day was excellent. It exceeded our expectations and objectives and we feel much more confident in taking the boat out now.  Rather than worrying if we will cope, we are now looking forward to our next trip out. We both considered the day a great investment.
Ian – Narrowboat Experience Day
Me and my dad had a great day on his boat with Steve on Friday. We are feeling a lot less daunted about the taking to the waters on our own boat, and are very grateful for all of the guidance etc given.
James – Narrowboat Experience Day
I just wanted to say another huge thank you for such an interesting, informative, confidence-building and fun weekend. Without any real idea of how the course would go and knowing so little about engines, I knew that by Monday I would know something more than I did on Friday; however I had no concept of how much you would be able to teach me.
In my opinion you work very hard for your money from me and I felt it was excellent value.
With only a truly basic idea of how an internal combustion engine works, I gave you very little to work with but I can honestly say I now feel I have a competent knowledge and ability which I am cautiously but keenly looking forward to using.
Thanks also for the offer of follow-up advice if I need it and the copy of course notes which came via David yesterday.
Tony – Diesel Engine Maintenance
Would have come back for a third day I enjoyed it so much.
Stephen – Diesel Engine Maintenance
Very friendly and professional, a highly enjoyable way to learn. Probably one of the best courses I've ever been on. Thanks again.
Steve – RYA Helmsmans
Exceeded expectations - Thank you
Ed – RYA Helmsmans
Can't say enough positive! The course contributed in a BIG way to the enjoyment of our subsequent holiday. Would recommend course and specifically David to all. Many thanks, Harry
Harry – RYA Helmsmans
A very enjoyable course and left me feeling well prepared for two weeks afloat in September. We very much enjoyed the company of the instructor.
David – RYA Helmsmans

The Narrowboat Skills Centre is a recognised RYA Training Centre

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Upcoming Courses

01 January 2027