Inland Cruiser moored up

Canal Boat Training

Canal Boat Training

River cruisers are fairly straightforward to master as they have the same steering system as cars. However, if it is your first time on a narrowboat, it is a good idea to choose a smaller boat as it is easier to manoeuvre. There is no need to worry, you will soon get the hang of it with some basic training so you enjoy your boating adventure to the full. Boat training can be provided by the hire company as part of the hire boat handover process or you can take an RYA course in advance.


First Cruising Holiday 

When you are looking for a company to take your first boating holiday with, you need to be sure you will be given suitable tuition before leaving the base. Driving a boat isn’t difficult but in order for you to feel comfortable you need to be with a company who takes your enjoyment and safety seriously. Look out for the Hire Boat Handover scheme and its logo when selecting your holiday.


Hire Boat handover Scheme 

The Hire Boat Handover Scheme applies to hire boat operators and is managed by the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO) to promote safe enjoyment of the inland waterways. Those companies allowed to display the logo have undergone an audited process to insure their instruction and handover process to customers includes all the information you will need to be sure you will know how to handle the boat and facilities aboard safely so you enjoy your boating adventure to the full. Typically, training will include basic techniques such as steering the boat, operating locks, navigating bridges and mooring the boat, and safety information. The logo can be a useful tool for you to look for when selecting your chosen holiday company.


Training Courses 

Training courses which develop boat handling skills are increasingly popular amongst both novice and experienced boaters. The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate is for anyone who wants to improve their inland waterways boating skills.

RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Course from £125

To find a training centre click here



Anyone over 21 can hire a river cruiser with no licence or training, but we strongly recommend that you get some instruction before setting off. Most people pick up steering and controlling the boat fairly quickly, barge hire companies will give basic training, and it is possible to take some lessons in advance. See the OTW recommends for a list of training providers.