Helmsmans course

The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsmans Course is for those new to boating or those boaters who feel that they need to brush up on their helmsmans skills. Our courses are run on our dedicated training boat the Gwendoline May although we can run a course on your own boat*.

As an RYA recognised training centre, the helmsman’s course follows the RYA syllabus and participants are awarded an Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate upon successful completion.

We run scheduled courses throughout the month but if you are booking for 2 or three persons at the same time we will run a course at a time to suit you.

For operational reasons there are no more than 3 students on any course.

The course includes:

  1. Boating Safety

  2. Pre start checks

  3. Ropework and knots

  4. Boat control

  5. Getting underway

  6. Slowing down, stopping and mooring up

  7. Locks and using them safely

  8. Navigating bridges and tunnels

It is a highly practical course with the majority of the day spent out on the water or on the bank mooring up or working locks. As such it is important that you have suitable clothes (including wet weather gear) and sturdy non slip shoes (no flip flops or sandals). It is also recommended that you bring a hat in the unlikely event that the sun is shining. Lifejackets are provided and wearing them is mandatory.

We provide hot and cold drinks throughout the day as well as lunch. If you have any special dietary requirements please speak to us before the course so that we can accommodate you.

Our cruising route will include wide locks, tunnels, bridges, a small aqueduct and optionally swing bridges. We can if desired include the incredible Foxton Locks.

*Our training vessel, the Gwendoline May, is configured specifically for training and we would suggest that wherever possible you take your course on our boat. However we realise that for a number of reasons (location, special access requirements or even personal preference) you may want to use your own boat for the course and we are happy to accommodate you. For preference your boat should either be cruiser stern or semi trad. If it is a traditional stern boat we can only have one helmsman on the counter at one time which restricts teaching. We will provide sufficient lifejackets for the course but it is your responsibility to ensure that other equipment (mooring lines, piling hooks/chains, mooring spikes etc) is available. It is also important that you are near at least one lock. If we run a course on your boat from our base at Debdale there is no additional cost. If we run a course on your boat at a different location there is a fixed £40 cost to cover all travel and accommodation costs we might incur. Please contact us to discuss further.

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Course Details

Duration: 2 days

Location: Gwendoline May

Cost: £370

Maximum # students 3

Minimum # students 2

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Student Reviews

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

Many thanks to Steve, great instruction with excellent knowledge. Very worthwhile course and would highly recommend

Grant

Excellent facilitator giving us all a broad and very hands on experience. All round excellent course which exceeded my expectations.

Karin

We have very much enjoyed the course. Steve was very helpful and informative and has given us some much needed guidance and confidence.

Margaret

Excellent facilities, superb training. Would recommend to anyone wishing to improve their knowledge of boat handling.

Nick

Nick was a great instructor. No complaints, all areas covered, great venue, could not have been better

Daniel

Thoroughly enjoyed the course. I now feel a lot more confident to steer into locks, moor up, cast off - all the reasons I came on the course.

Alison

Best Parts: Locking instructions and the little tips making a big difference to the way the boat responds What could be improved: Not much Course Presentation: Steve was exceptionally sympathetic but positive with his instructions, which made it less nerve wracking for me. Overall: Excellent

Jennifer

Thank you so much for a wonderful course in great company. The confidence it gave me to have a go myself with great / excellent tuition which was at totally the right pace.

Tessa

Ideal Location – lots of different training opportunities (tunnel, Locks, winding holes etc.), in idyllic scenery.

Roy

Steve was the lynch pin to the whole day & made the whole experience very enjoyable and worthwhile. I now have the confidence to plan our first canal boat holiday.

Mark

A revelation - my retirement plans might need re-doing now. I'm a convert to the Inland Waterways.

Roy

Thoroughly enjoyed the course, tutor was brilliant.

Judith

Excellent route with good mix of tunnel/locks/mooring etc. Good fun had by all.

Richard

Would have come back for a third day I enjoyed it so much.

Steve

Brilliant

Claire

Very helpful instructor who made me feel very much at ease.

Martin

Outstanding course. Great experience, well delivered. Thank you.

Michael

Steve was engaging and fun to learn from. Enjoyed the days from beginning to end.

Sarah

Our instructor was perfect, patient, skilful, informative with an excellent manner.  Thoroughly enjoyable and informative. Highly recommended.

Gary