rope work and knots

Inland Waterways Helmsman's Course 

To teach and instruct both newcomers and the more experienced boater the principles of better and safer boating. On successful completion participants will receive the  Inland Waterways Helmsman's Certificate.

Location - The course will be held on the River Soar and River Trent in the East Midlands. This can be a challenging section of waterway for broad beams including narrow sections and wider river part, locks, bridges and weirs. But with care shows it can be done. This gives students confidence on their own boats. 

Duration - The course is based over two days to give sufficient handling experience. 09.00 till 18:00.

Helmsman's Course Notes - The Handbook is included in the cost of the Helmsman's Course. It will be sent to you when you book for pre-course reading.

Boats Used - Instruction is carried out either on beautiful historic Dutch Barge Anja or a narrowboat. Instruction on your boat at your location is available. See course fee page for various options. 

How to Register for a Course - Telephone or email us to discuss dates. The maximum number of students is three per course. Fill out the online form on our booking page.


Deck Work

Common nautical terms. 

Handling lines/warps and fenders. 

Throwing a heaving line or coiled rope.

Knots - clove hitch, round turn and two half hitches, bowline.

Securing to bollards, rings, cleats and mooring stakes.

Helmsmanship and boat handling

Loading and weight distribution.

Steering on a canal or river. 

Control of speed.

Interaction and canal effect.


Recovery of man overboard.

Berthing and unbearthing alongside and between buoys/piles.


Personal Safety

Identification of risks, including cold shock.

Use of life jackets and buoyancy aids.

Avoidance of personal injury, including crushing of limbs when fending off.

Special risk to children.

Boat Safety

Fire hazards, especially gas and petrol.

Use of fire extinguishers.

Watertight integrity.

Refloating after grounding.


Engine care. Checks to be carried out before starting and while running.

Routine periodic checks.

dutch barge handling


General understanding of maintenance of levels.

Operation of locks

Tending lines in locks.

Safety in locks.

Bridges and Tunnels

General understanding of techniques for bridges and tunnels.

River Techniques

Special attention paid to the effect of the current.

Big river locks controlled by lock keepers.

Collision Avoidance

Steering and Sailing rules of International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea.

By-laws and local regulations including traffic signals, signs and priorities.

Awareness of other national and local regulations. 

Publications to be carried.

Care of Environment

Avoiding damage to boats, banks, flora and fauna.

Pollution avoidance.

Consideration for other water users.