Helmsman Course

Helmsman Course

This course is for anyone wanting to cruise the UK’s inland waterways or Europe’s extensive network of lakes, rivers and canals.It deals specifically with the requirements of the inland boater, whether they be a narrow boat owner or cruiser enthusiast.

It assumes no prior knowledge and so is ideal for the first timer, yet the more seasoned boater will learn plenty of tricks of the trade and tips to make their boating safer and more enjoyable.

It is a hands-on course with minimal theory, and is not only an opportunity to learn new skills but also a fun day out!


Cruising the inland waterways is great fun for all ages, and children can participate in all aspects from driving the boat, operating the locks and navigating. The youngest that children can take this course is 12 years old. However, all under 16s must be accompanied by a parent.

Course details

  • Pre-course experience – None
  • Assumed knowledge – None
  • Course content
    • Safety
    • Helmsmanship
    • Locks and Tunnels
    • Collision avoidance
    • An introduction to engine maintenance
  • Ability after the course – Able to helm a vessel safely on inland waterways
  • Duration – 2 day course for Novices, 1 day direct assessment for students with prior experience
  • Cost – £250 per day for up to 2 people

Please note – For students doing the course in 1 day due to prior experience the instructor will assess competence on the day and may require you to do a second day in order to issue the certificate.

Cruising outside the UK

If you intend to use your inland waterways certificate outside the UK you will also need a CEVNI certification. The CEVNI exam can be taken at the same time as your Helmsman course.