It is time! who wants to drive a brand spankingly refitted wooden boat then? Whilst crewing and skippering the Hazel will demand skill and responsibility, it will also be a rewarding, enriching and life-affirming experience. Sound interesting to you? then read on…

What’s involved

A Crew Member’s tasks may include loading, tying-up, casting-off and steering the boat, and attending to the horse or motor boat providing the tow(under instruction or supervision as necessary); along with welcoming passengers on board, giving them instructions, telling them about the canal and calmly carrying out emergency procedures, if they are ever needed.

The Skipper is in overall charge, so needs to understand how to do all of the above and to coordinate the rest of crew to make sure all tasks are done safely. The Skipper also needs to take care of the passengers, who may have a range of support needs.  A vital part of this role is taking care of the boats and keeping them in good condition, so candidates need to be willing to stay and tidy up at the end of a trip. You wont be alone though – the whole idea is to be part of a team of boat fans all here to help.

Both positions require moderate physical fitness and the ability to keep balance and move about in small spaces.

Why it’s awesome

Learning boating skills and boatcraft opens up a whole friendly world of other boaters and a ticket to explore Britain’s fantastic network of historic waterways. Being on a boat changes your perspective from the everyday: it happens at a slower pace and is closer to the outdoors. Moving on the water at a top speed of 4 miles per hour gives you a unique way to get close to nature, history, people and even the changing weather! Finding out you can master practical skills, and adapt to different boats and situations is very satisfying and builds confidence. The Wooden Canal Boat Society is in a unique position, offering access to truly historic vessels and a totally different kind of boating to a modern leisure cruiser; While the facilities on Hazel are bang up to date, moving her around will will introduce you to a host of old working boat skills, from vintage engines to even more old fashioned horse-power! Becoming a Crew Member lets you take on a bit more responsibility and contribute more to the running of WCBS’s lovely old boats than just being a passenger would do… though being a passenger is where we all start!

Skills needed

So, who do we need? well, you dont need any particular qualifications or to have even been on a boat before – that is what the training is there for, after all. Instead, you need common sense,  attention to detail, awareness of your surroundings, understanding of hazards, moderate dexterity and physical fitness, communication and listening skills, and the ability to work with people. And ENTHUSIAM!. Experience of mental health issues is valuable, but not essential. An open mind and a desire to include people of varying backgrounds and abilities is, however, a must!

Induction: Crew Member

In the first instance, you should come and meet us and find out more about the project. The perfect place to start is to come on a recycling trip and ride along on the boats, seeing how they work and how to be safe on them. If you enjoy the experience and come regularly you will start to learn how to do different tasks involved in crewing a boat. To become an official Crew Member you will need to come regularly, be part of the team, show competence in several tasks and develop an understanding of them all. Committed volunteers will also need to undergo the free risk assessment and first aid training that we will provide. We’d prefer if you can commit to at least a day a month, but of course if you are enjoying it you can come as often as you like!

Induction: Skipper

To become an official Skipper you need already to be an experienced and regularly-attending Crew Member. You also need to be able to carry out safely all boating tasks and explain them to others, and to demonstrate that you are able to take overall responsibility for safety and for managing crew and passengers in a clear and friendly manner. You will then need to complete a long weekend of extra safety training, and complete a certificate in Community Boat Manangement, which we can fund and support you through. Sound daunting? It doeasnt need to be – we have Big Lottery funding that will allow us to subsidise the cost and wouldnt dream of putting you through it unless you’d got plenty of practice under your belt ready to pass with flying colours. The CCBM allows you to legally be in charge of a boat carrying up to 12 people, so looks great on the CV and can come in handy elsewhere in the boating world too. As many of our passengers, staff and volunteers may have mental health conditions and/or other problems, such as physical disabilities, drug or alcohol problems or homelessness, or may be ex-offenders, you need to be open minded and non-judgemental. Training will be provided to give a basic understanding of what these issues entail, but you need to be willing to find out more and to set a good example of how to be inclusive. We’re all constanly learning how best to look after our fellow humans so you’ll be in good company and well supported there. The Skipper will also be responsible for leaving the boat clean and tidy and reporting any problems back to the Gaffer (Chris Leah)

To Find out more or to apply to volunteer, please contact Hazel Mayow on 07872073071  or

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