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Getting started in the world of boating for the first time?

We know how much there is to learn! 

At Brecknock Boat Services we aim to provide all of the support, training and guidance you need to get your voyage underway and ensure your boat and its crew are safe at all times. Please be sure to browse our FAQ section to find a range of useful links and information relating to our services. 

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Be sure to reach out and contact us today to discuss your questions and requirements with us in detail! 


Boating is a fabulous pastime and living on a boat is increasingly becoming a lifestyle to which many aspire. It does however come with its own dangers that all boaters need to be aware of. There is also a set of skills that enable the competent boater to navigate safely through waterway features like locks and tunnels and to get their boat to go where they intend it to. The helmsman course gives you the knowledge to keep yourself, your crew and your boat safe, and the opportunity to acquire and practice the skills you’ll need to navigate safely and competently on the inland waterways.

Every successful candidate will receive the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate. It’s got your picture on it and its valid for life.

It’s widely accepted by boat insurance firms as evidence of your boating competence. If you are new to boat ownership your insurer will want to know you have one. It is the qualification many organisations seek if you are volunteering on a boating or waterways project.  Its also the major step in gaining your ICC (International Certificate of Competence) which you will need for boating on European Waterways. 

Always get them to specify, but If you are insuring a narrowboat or cruiser on the inland waterways for the first time then yes, this course will demonstrate that you have gained experience. They normally want you to complete it before they insure your craft or before the first renewal of your policy.

No, they both involve boats with engines but the Inland waterway course is tailored to cruising and manoeuvring in confined spaces on canals and rivers in larger, slower vessels. It includes the particular skills needed to transit locks etc.

In an emergency we can reschedule your training course. If you wish to cancel we need at least 7 days notice for 50% refund. 8-13 days 75% refund 14 days + 100% refund. 
We will need to reschedule your course if there is no instructor available (through illness), non availability of the training boat (mechanical breakdown) Closure of the waterway (by the Canal & Rivers Trust) or severe weather that would make the proposed activity dangerous. We will give you as much notice as we can if any of these events are likely.

Man completing assessment form while inspecting a boat
Fire extinguisher inspection


If it has an engine, or a fuel burning appliance; it has some sort of enclosed cabin and you are required to licence it, then yes it probably does need a BSS. 

It’s up to your licensing authority to decide, so contact them to be sure.

No, but you will need to ensure we can gain access to the boat and that everything we need to see has been made accessible.  Depending on the circumstances it may be worthwhile if you or someone acting on your behalf could be present. If the boat fails any checks we can make sure you understand what needs to be done to pass the check.  

Ideally we will discuss the failures at the time of examination. You will receive a report detailing the points where it did not meet the requirements  You then have three months to do whatever is needed and arrange for us to come back and check those points again. After three months has elapsed the boat will need another full examination.

A boat can be examined at any time during the four year period of the certificate but new certificate can only be forward dated by a maximum two months. If you are selling your boat it might make sense to have a new certificate.

A small, simple craft will take about an hour. the larger and more complicated they are the longer it takes. On average it’s about 2 hours

Examinations are £230 plus travelling costs if applicable. First re-examination is free but travelling costs may be charged. Two or more boats in the same location booked together can expect a discount

No. But examiners are expected to be rigorous, diligent and methodical in the way they carry out the examination. Many of the checks and standards have been made clearer, so some things that were being passed erroneously are now being picked up. You may also find the process to takes longer than you have experienced in the past and the increasing cost of examinations reflects this.

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