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: £360

Maximum # students 3

Minimum # students 2

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Narrowboat Experience

Student Reviews

Fab course.Nick was lovely, engaging & professional over both days

Chaaya

We have some experience of narrowboating and were looking for tips and guidance on how to improve. The course provided everything I was looking for. Also great fun.

Andrew

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

Grant

A really useful, fun and informative course. Thank You

Wendy

Lovely to have such a calm instructor - felt relaxed enough to let go of any anxieties, as a newbie! Great that the tutor is both an experienced narrowboater and a proper engineer! Lovely lunch too!

Barbara

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

Martin

Exceeded expectations - Thank you

Ed

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

Nick was a very informative instructor who didn’t just teach the basics he also taught us the etiquette and answered all the questions we had. Was a great 2 days

Chris

Everything was very good - I feel much more confident now.

Jill

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

Karin

Best bits – learning ways of tying up & manoeuvring slowly especially when mooringup & moving off but difficult to choose because all good.

Karen

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

Sarah

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

Michael

Excellent course & very good instructions throughout the full course. Excellent introduction to using a boat safely and correctly on the network

Gary

Brilliant

Claire

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

Richard

Most enjoyable and informative two day course with lots of hands on experiences. Taught in a very calm and trouble free manner. Many thanks to Nick.

Maria

Friendly instructive teaching. Very hands on, clear instructions, very enjoyable. The course is what we needed tp have the confidence to enjoy boating. Lots of detail explained very clearly. Enjoyed every moment.

Graeme

Well thought out and informative

John