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


2-day Training / 2-day Assessment


Optional and free-of-charge.  Leadership eLearning


  • Have a basic knowledge of first aid and resuscitation
  • Must have a working knowledge of safety and rescue using the Bell Boat
  • Must be over 18 (candidates may attend the course when over sixteen and be called Trainee Helms)
  • Must be competent in the practical assessment
  • Be a member of British Canoeing or National Association. Bell Boat Helms must join as a Basic member (minimum) in subsequent years. Membership includes Family and Youth categories. Also ‘Junior Club’ membership which includes full individual membership rights for the named leader within the fee paid by the junior club.

Course Documents

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

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, British Canoeing, 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.

Certification: Candidates who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate and a letter from British Canoeing office outlining their terms of reference, and providing them with further information to assist their work.