Narrowboat Training

Narrowboat Training

Narrowboats are fairly straightforward to drive but they take a little practice to master as the steering system is slightly different to other boats. If it is your first time on a narrowboat there is no need to worry, you will soon get the hang of it with some basic training. Narrowboat 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 Narrowboat 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 narrowboat 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 Quality Accredited Boatyard Scheme logo when selecting your holiday.

Quality Accredited Boatyard Scheme

VisitEngland Quality Accredited Boatyard logo

The Hire Boat Handover Audit forms part of the VisitEngland and British Marine Quality Accredited Boatyard (QAB) Scheme. QAB applies to hire boat operators and those operators awarded QAB have met assessments in operating in a legal and safe manner, insofar as this can be guaranteed within a quality assessment process.

Companies who have been awarded QAB have undergone an audited process to ensure 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 can 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.

Training Courses 

Training courses which develop boat handling skills are increasingly popular amongst both novice and experienced boaters. The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course is for anyone who wants to improve their inland waterways boating skills, available from £250 per person. Plus, there's the RYA Inland Waterways Crew Course from £225 per person.

To find a centre click here and scroll to the bottom of the page where you can enter your town.


Anyone over 21 can hire a barge 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.

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