Cruising our network of inland waterways makes for a great holiday or way of life. Inland boats range from small cruisers to narrowboats and barges.

Knowing how to handle the boat properly and navigate locks will give you the confidence you need to relax and make the most of your time on the water. 

Our one and two day courses are suitable for beginners and more experienced boaters, making sure you have the knowledge and skills to explore the waterways safely and at your own pace.

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Inland waterways
All courses

Our inland waterways courses can be run together for mixed ability groups, ensuring you and your family and friends are all prepared. You’ll learn simple safety techniques, methods to control a narrowboat or barge and how to manage locks.

Inland Waterways Crew

This entry level one-day course is an ideal introduction to crewing a vessel on the inland waterways

Inland Waterways Helmsman

A hands-on two-day course with minimal theory. Ideal for first timers and more seasoned boaters, you’ll learn how to helm a vessel safely

Courses ashore

From first aid to diesel engines and the basics of navigation and seamanship, there are a number of related courses that you may find useful

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RYA Inland Waterways Handbook cover with images of lock and river cruiser

With more than 100 different titles to choose from, there’s an RYA book, eBook or audiobook for every age, interest and ability. Visit our webshop for course books and a range of supporting titles.


Find out more about our network of rivers and canals and opportunities to get afloat in the UK.

The Helmsman’s Certificate can be used in addition to a CEVNI test certificate to apply for an ICC, which is commonly required for cruising the inland waterways of Europe.

Woman and child at the bow on canal barge on the inland waterways

Cruising the inland waterways is great fun for all ages and there are plenty of ways to involve young people. The Crew course is suitable for children as young as 8 and children aged 12 and up can take the Helmsman course.