HNA run several training events each year, which are suitable for everyone from complete novices through to seasoned boaters wishing to refresh their skills. These start at our base in Harefield in West London.

Our courses focus on more than just boating. You’ll learn a lot about the history of the canal system, mixed in with trivia and stories, from trainers who are passionate about the country’s waterways. You’ll be part of a close-knit team over four days (either all together or over 2 weekends), where you’ll make some firm friendships, and where you’ll learn to work together to safely steer and crew a 70 foot long narrowboat along the Grand Union Canal.

No matter what your level of experience, HNA has a training course for you. Our instructors and crew are trained to deliver courses up to the National Community Boat Association’s Certificate in Community Boat Management level – a nationally recognised qualification – and are CRB/DBS checked.

The cost of this course is £375 and includes:

  • Four days of instruction, both one-to-one and as a group.
  • Course manual
  • All meals as well as teas/coffee/squash (and sometimes cake!) throughout the course.
  • Accommodation on board.

During the course, you can expect to learn:

  • Steering, turning and reversing a 70-foot narrowboat
  • Mooring up and setting off (including rope throwing and use)
  • Safe use of locks (and what to do in an emergency)
  • How to increase your communications skills, both verbally and non-verbally
  • Working as part of a team and with others
  • Etiquette on the canal system
  • History and trivia on canals

HIllingdon-Narrowboats Theo

Sound like something you’d like to do? Courses will have up to 5 trainees and 2 trainers per boat, so you’ll get plenty of “tiller time” and lock experience. Your accommodation on board is in bunks, with separate male and female cabins. Boats have flushing toilets and hot showers, as well as full-sized kitchens and all cooking utensils.

Further reading…

Please see below for 'Frequently Asked Questions' about the course, which you might like to have a read through.  

You can also download a copy of our DofE Programme.


Q: What should I bring?

A: Usual overnight type of stuff, changes of clothes, medication, etc. Bring a spare pair of shoes in case you end up dropping a foot in the water. Don't bring hair dryers, hair straighteners, etc. You will need waterproofs, and a hat may also be a good idea to keep the sun/rain/snow off.


Q: Can I recharge my phone?

A: Yes -  we have USB sockets on board.

Q: What are the sleeping arrangements?

A: Bunk-bed style, you'll be sharing a cabin with people of the same sex as yourself. Bring a sleeping bag and pillow, and a torch is handy in case you need to get up in the night.

Q: What about toilets and showers?

A: Yes, all onboard. We will refill with fresh water daily.

Q: I can't swim - is that a problem?

A: No problem at all. We run through what happens at regular safety briefings. Lifejackets are available for all.

Q: I have special dietary requirements. Is that a problem?

A: Not usually. Let us know, and we'll take care of it