Mercury being rope-handled through wide lock.
Resting / combined teaching area.Training boat n.b.Mercury 57.5ft Cruiser Stern.Solo mooring at a relaxed pace.Course book detailing methods.

Planet Narrowboats

7 reviews

Listed in Boat Handling

Telephone: 07970 103 217
Location: Shobnall Road, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire DE14 2UB
Contact: Contact Listing Owner

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Planet Narrowboats is a boat training company, where you can learn to handle a narrowboat in a relaxing yet professional environment. We have been told we are exceptionally helpful and friendly, which is something we pride ourselves on.

Our training boat can be found at Shobnall Marina in Burton-upon Trent, which provides easy access to either single (narrow) or double (wide) locks, depending upon experience and requirements. During the training session, a short river section at Alrewas is usually traversed, and most of the normal canal features are found en-route.

A popular choice is the Taster Day where attendees will be involved in and taught all the skills necessary to handle a narrowboat safely and comfortably. Two people can share the day to either learn to handle a boat – maybe for an upcoming hire holiday – or simply for the pleasure of a day out on the water. All refreshments, boating costs and, of course, safety items are supplied as part of the deal.

The training we give is based upon the philosophy that often it may be necessary to manage boat handling activities on your own. And whilst help and company is always beneficial, we believe it is not always necessary – hence the book which accompanies our training, “Narrowboating Solo – With A Crew”. Mooring, winding, locking can all be accomplished safely and remarkably easily using methods proven over many years and to many satisfied students. If adopted for normal cruising, the methods become second nature even when you have crew on board.

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2 people recommended this business.

Reviewed on: May 22, 2016

I was fortunate to spend a day with Mick on the Trent and Mersey Canal in preparation for a week on the Kennet and Avon. It was an inspirational day.

Mick is a very capable and experienced teacher. After a brief and wholly appropriate safety briefing, it is straight into boat handling. I particularly appreciated the discussion of factors that influence the boat’s movement on the water; not only the obvious, such as propellor and rudder, but also the impact of wind, water movement and the subtle interactions with either passing or moored boats and bank sides.

Mick demystified locks with his demonstration of how the position and movement of the boat, particularly in a double lock, can be controlled by appropriate use of the paddles with minimal recourse to lines. All of these subtleties are further explained in the instruction book he has written which accompanies his training days.

All in all a thoroughly worthwhile day. The principles I’ve learnt will stay with me forever.

  • Member Since: March 11, 2016

Reviewed on: March 11, 2016

I spent two days with my husband and Mick doing the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s course last March (2015). It was a good course covering many things, e.g locks, mooring, steering and reading the water, as it were. Lunch was provided. Mick doesn’t let anyone get away with anything sloppy so it isn’t just an ‘attendance’ course. I didn’t ‘pass’ so did not get a certificate, but this was okay as I learnt a lot.

Reviewed on: March 10, 2016

An excellent, two-day course which was very helpful. I would have been lost and out of my depth without it.

Reviewed on: March 5, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed my one-to-one day of learning how to manage the boat by myself. It was very effectively tailored to my needs and I learned a lot.

  • Member Since: March 5, 2016

Reviewed on: March 5, 2016

The course is excellent value. Both of us learnt a lot (course mainly for my partner who lacked confidence to helm). Our following holiday was greatly improved due to what we had learnt. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and will probably do another course in the future.

  • Member Since: March 4, 2016

Reviewed on: March 4, 2016

We were staying at Wychnor for a few days and I discovered that Planet Narrowboats was listed as a relatively local and official RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s training organisation. Mick was very flexible and he arranged to pick up my wife and I from Wychnor Lock. Upon meeting him, it was immediately apparent that he was a professional trainer and a very experienced narrowboater. He is quite firm and ensures that you can really follow tasks properly, or undertake manoeuvres, by repeating them several times – thereby assuring him that the skills have been learnt. (I guess the “proof of the pudding” was receiving genuine applause from the many critical gongoozlers, at Fradley Junction, whilst successfully “pirouetting” 180 degrees smoothly and safely, time after time.) I learnt a lot from that course, and we were very happy to integrate Mick’s “Narrowboating Solo – With a Crew” concept into our training; I often review this book prior to my subsequent narrowboat hires. A few months later I asked Mick if I could have a follow up, more comprehensive, training/coaching session. This involved, amongst some new challenges, double width locks: a whole new ball game! I feel privileged to have come across Planet Narrowboats.

Reviewed on: March 4, 2016

Mick helped me to return to narrow boating after many years’ break. His course gave me confidence and his book helped me overlearn and retain the material from the day course. I am so glad that I chose Planet Narrowboats for my training.

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