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Bell Boating


(Published January 2022, replacing March 2016)

What is Bell Boating?

Bell Boats are twin hulled open canoes which seat 8-14 people plus a helm. They are propelled through the use of single bladed paddles and helmed via a single, stern mounted, steering oar.

What is a Bell Boating Permit?

The adventurous activity permit scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for the young people. Therefore all activities classed as adventurous can only be lead by someone holding the appropriate permit.

A Bell Boating permit is required for all Bell Boating taking place except in class C water. Definitions of water classifications can be found in POR.

Levels of Permit

Bell Boating permits can be issued for any class of flat water. Each class of permit can be further restricted (such as through venue etc.) to end up with an individual permit to the level of the competence and requirements of an applicant.

Types of Permit

There are two types of permit available for Bell Boating. These are:

Leadership – Allows the permit holder to lead Bell Boating for a single boat.

Supervisory – Allows the permit holder to remotely supervise more than one Bell Boat.

Permit Limitations

Leadership – If you have a permit to lead Bell Boating activities then you will need to be in the Bell Boat at all times.

Supervisory – If you hold a permit to supervise Bell Boating then you can supervise up to three boats. All supervised boats should be within communication range of the permit holder who will need to be in or have immediate access to a rescue craft (this may be another Bell Boat). You remain responsible for all the groups you are supervising, but can designate someone with the appropriate skills to be the leader of each boat.

Note: The Permit Holder should ensure the Bell Boat is used in conjunction with the manufacturer's guidance in respect to number of passengers and maximum weight limit.


When supervising other boats the holder of a Bell Boating supervisor permit needs to designate a leader for each boat. This designation lasts only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising.

People designated as boat leaders should have the necessary skills and be responsible enough to control the boat safely in the waters that they are in. There is no problem with making young people boat leaders if they are up to the role, and it can be used as a useful development tool.

Rules relating to bell boating

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult Groups in Adventurous Activities

Rule 9.13.1 All Water Activities

Rule 9.13.2 Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

Rule 9.13.3 Classification of Waters

Rule 9.13.4 Activities on Class C Waters

Rule 9.13.5 Boats

General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors