Inland Waterways Helmsman's Course (IWHC)

Pre-course experience: None

Assumed knowledge: None

Course content: includes safety, helmsmanship, general seamanship, locks, tunnels, collision avoidance, an introduction to engine maintenance and crewing.

Ability after the course: Able to helm a vessel safely on inland waterways.

Minimum duration:  2 day course

Minimum age: 12. Certificates for children aged between 12 and 16 will be endorsed to show that they must use boats only under the supervision of a responsible adult

This RYA training course is aimed at students who do not have any or a limited amount of boating experience by giving you the tuition that suits your needs and a full opportunity to practice your new skills over the two days. Our usual route covers some 18 locks; 9 up and then 9 back down - more than enough to make them less mysterious!

This route involves two full days of training, with a 8.30am start and concluding at around 5-6pm on both days.

Our aim is to give you the confidence to navigate a vessel safely on the inland waterways. Bargecraft concentrates on the specific requirements in Europe as opposed to those specific to the UK.

Here, on the inland waterways of France, there are different needs, such as the different types of locks and the likelihood of sharing your waterway, and in some cases, a lock with a 120 metres long commercial vessel. That needs a little something extra to help equip you for the European Waterways.

Successfully completing this fully inclusive course will provide you with your Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate and if required, an endorsed ICC application form for submission to the RYA who are authorised to issue your ICC for European cruising. This is assuming you also pass the CEVNI examination, which is taken at the conclusion of day two. Please note that it is your responsibility to prepare for the CEVNI examination as boat schools only facilitate the examination itself.  All this is completed within the two day course.

The IWHC is a two day training course in which you will cover the wide ranging RYA syllabus, which includes these objectives:

  • Personal and Boat Safety
  • Importance of regular engine and equipment checks
  • Recognising and practising the skills required for safe navigation of your vessel, including coming alongside, springing on and off, entering and leaving a lock,  turning a vessel, steering through tight spaces, dealing with strong currents and wind to name but a few
  • Participation in deck work and basic seamanship skills
  • Understanding and using navigation instruments, electronic navigation, automatic identification system (AIS), etc

Preparing for your course

As with any form of training, preparation and study is recommended so that you achieve the best results and enjoyment. The RYA bookshop stocks all you need to prepare for your CEVNI. Don't forget that boating schools only provide the examination for CEVNI, so getting to know those regulations thoroughly relies on the work you put in prior to attending your course. (Those who book an inland waterways helmsman's course will have a copy of the Inland Waterways Handbook sent to them as a part of the course.)

To assist those who may not be too familiar with CEVNI signs, we have collated a small gallery of some you might see to help you become more familiar with them. It's good to see them in context.

Consolidation Day

In line with the RYA syllabus, the Helmsman course is achievable for novice boaters or those with limited boating experience.  However, several of our previous clients have commented that they would have found an additional day beneficial to reinforce and consolidate their learning.  In response to this feedback we have now included this as part of our offering, so an additional day (with close supervision) is available if you wish to extend your time with us.