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Course FAQ's: RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate (IWHC)

How much will the RYA IWHC cost to complete?

Between £200 - £450 (around $300-$675, or 265-600 EUROS) depending on how much experience you have at the beginning, where and what vessel you take it on, and the time of year.

What will you learn from the Inland Waterways Helmsman course ?

For the novice you will learn the basics of inland navigation, and become a competent, safe member of the inland waterways community.

You will cover various elements of helmsmanship, lock operation and safety.

There are laws and byelaws that apply to inland waters, that don’t apply to the sea.

Inland waterways navigation is very different to open waters, so even if you have a fair bit of experience afloat  on open waters you should consider this course.

Though canal and inland waterways are less moody than the sea and therefore somewhat less liable to jump up and give the unwary a slap, there are still things that the open waters sailor needs to learn before going up the canals.

You won’t find a tunnel on the Solent for a start… 

What are your limits on passing this certification?

You can take a canal boat, barge or other motor vessel on inland waterways.

These differ to open water, so please do not think just because you’re qualified to sail the length of the Kennet and Avon Canal you are capable of sailing across the English Channel!

Is the IWHC theory, practical or a combination of both?

This is a primarily practical course though you will have to learn and understand laws and byelaws particular to this discipline if pottering about in boats.

Where can you take it?

This is a UK only course, since this country has not signed up to the CEVNI regulations that apply to most European inland waterways.

You can however use this as a step toward a CEVNI certification that will open up the delights of the Danube and Rhine to you.

Can you do it in another country?

No – again, UK regulations only apply to the UK.

What level of experience do you need before you begin the IWHC?

You can do the course with little or no experience, though you will take longer to master the skills if you have no experience at all.

How long does the IWHC take?

If you have no previous experience consider a two day version of the course. People with a fair bit of experience should be able to pass it in one day. This is reflected in the price – water sports centres will charge more for a two day course than a one day course.

What does it involve?

You will cover elements of helmsmanship and safety as well as engine maintenance and operation, but also look at the inland waterways buoyage, markings and rules of the road.

You will cover how to operate a lock and the rules governing passing through tunnels. You will look at local byelaws and national laws that apply to inland waterways.

You will also learn about what paperwork you need to carry aboard.

Have a look at this syllabus for an idea what you will learn.

How do I progress after completing the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman course?

This is the highest level of accreditation the RYA offers for inland waterway motor cruising.

Does it give you international accreditation?

No, but it is useful grounding to look at sitting the European inland waterways CEVNI accreditation.

Where can I learn more about the certification?

Take a look at this webpage on the RYA website.

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