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Boating training

The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate is the most widely recognised boat-handling qualification for Britain’s inland waterways. The Inland Waterways Association Certificate of Boat Management scheme is for operators of small passenger boats on certain prescribed inland waterways of Britain.

Boat-handling qualifications

RYA Helmsman Course

There is no prior knowledge needed for the course, which is great for beginners who want to prepare for a boating holiday or assist a helmsman. 

Experienced boaters may want to do the course to improve their skills in certain areas, or need the certificate for a job or insurance.

Courses usually last one or two days with prices varying from £100 per person to £400.

Find a local training centre providing the RYA Helmsman Course. 

IWA Boat Management Certificate

The majority of small passenger boats are operated by volunteers as fundraising enterprises for charities and trusts or to promote their waterway. The scheme is not designed to apply to scheduled Public Transport Service operations.

The Certificate of Boat Management scheme:

  • Provides accreditation and certification of people managing and steering small passenger boats through a structured training & assessment system;
  • Makes sure training and assessment is appropriate for operating small passenger boats carrying a maximum of 12 passengers on narrow, shallow and low risk waterways (Maritime & Coastguard Agency Category A);
  • Allows for those already currently steering small passenger boats to evidence competency through long term knowledge & performance of the role. A Royal Yachting Association or National Community Boats Association approved and qualified trainer will assess people claiming established competency;
  • Is designed to ensure passenger and crew safety within the identified area of operation.

Sustainable boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Waterway businesses

The government needs to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy and what could be a core element of the British stay-at-home leisure and holiday sectors in the coming years.

Waterways affected by HS2

We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.

Waterways heritage

Our waterways heritage is what makes Britain’s canals and rivers special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding – for the future.