Bell Boat Helm (Sheltered Water)

bellboat helm - A group of children in a bellboat waving their paddles and cheering

The main responsibility of the Bell Boat Helm is to ensure safety for themselves and their crew and, of course, provide lots of fun and enjoyment for all.

Bell Boat Helm Overview

Minimum age

18 years (candidates may attend the course when over sixteen and be called Trainee Helms)


  • Have a basic knowledge of first aid and resuscitation
  • Must have a working knowledge of safety and rescue using the Bell Boat
  • Must be competent in the practical assessment
  • National Association Membership

Course Length

2-day Training / 2-day Assessment


Optional and free-of-charge Leadership eLearning

Course Documents

To view the associated documents with this course, click here.


You will need to register with your Delivery Centre ahead of assessment. Visit your Delivery Centre website below for further information.

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Visit your Delivery Centre website to find a course near you.

The Bell Boat is a twin-hulled open canoe seating up to 14 children or eight adults plus the Helm. Bell-boating is fun and rewarding and can be used in outdoor education, expeditions and competition.

The Bell Boat Helm Award is aimed at coaches, youth leaders and others who wish to introduce and develop paddlers on Bell Boats for recreation and sport. Bell Boat Helms may operate on ‘Very Sheltered’ water including slow moving rivers and quiet canals, small lakes or small areas of larger lakes.

Core Skills Covered

In preparing the Bell Boat Helm to take responsibility for the crew and boat, the course will cover the following content areas:

  • Philosophy, Bell Boat and Placid Water
  • Safety – Equipment Boat, Paddles, Safety Equipment, The Crew, Man Overboard, Awareness of Paddling Environment – Current, Weirs, Procedure at Locks, Weather, First Aid, Leptospirosis For events/expeditions
  • Coaching Group Control Coaching of techniques – Paddling, Steering, Manoeuvring, Negotiating a Lock, Lining
  • General Information, Next steps, Access to Water, The Environment

Methods of Assessment

Assessment: The award will be assessed as part of a two-day course, candidates will be expected to demonstrate the following skills with a Bell Boat and crew successfully and safely:

  • Safety routine, checking equipment and screening the crew
  • Load a boat and give safety information to the crew
  • Move away from the bank
  • Basic paddling technique
  • An emergency stop
  • Steering the boat over a straight course
  • Steering through a figure of eight course
  • The procedure for negotiating a lock
  • An approach to the landing stage and disembark the crew and secure the boat
  • The procedure for lining the Bell Boat round a rapid or weir. The Bell Boat Helm will have attended a weekend course and be conversant with the Helm syllabus and be able to answer questions on basic first aid, safety, access and British Canoeing Awarding Body.

Certification: Candidates who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate from their National Association.

Find a course

To find a course in your area, visit your Delivery Centre website by clicking the relevant logo at the bottom of this page.