As noted earlier, when we bought Kanumbra we knew absolutely nothing about barge handling (and very little about any other form of boating). But, in some ways, that was useful, in that we had very little to "un-learn" on our way to learning how to handle Kanumbra.
The one thing we did know was that we needed to learn what we were meant to be doing before we tried doing it (as opposed to those who hire barges and receive 15 minutes training before they are sent on their way to crash into the first lock they encounter).
We had both enjoyed reading Michelle Caffry's book " and how in Chapter 1 she opened with describing how she was about to enter her first lock as skipper, with Roger van Dyken looking over her shoulder as the instructer on Vertrouwen. So one of the first things we did after buying Kanumbra was to try booking a place on one of the . In the end, we were successful, and so our first training course was a 6-day session on .
Through the DBA, we had also learned about the importance of barge handling training, even for those with lots of non-barge boating experience. So for us newbies, it was absolutely essential. We had seen lots of DBA references to the training courses run by (Tam and Di) in Cambrai. So we enrolled in their 2-day course, to run immediately after the Vertrouwen course, and to sit the exam for the ICC (International Certificate of Competence). We also were fortunate that just before we did their course, eligibility for the ICC was widened to include non-EC countries such as Australia. So our second training course was the 2-day session on .
Our third training experience, and the one that has had continuing influence, was with Iain and Kaz Noble at Moissac. They later opened their own RYA-accredited Training School at Moissac (which has since closed after they moved to the Caribbean), but in the beginning it was just them giving us friendly advice and encouragement. They were also willing to go out with us on our first "solo" voyage and took us through the first few locks as we headed west from Moissac. We have continued to learn from them ever since.
In order of usefulness (since not everyone needs or can afford that much training), I would rate the Noble Marine Training at Moissac as #1 (especially since one could also do the ICC exam with them), then the Vertrouwen 6-day course (for a thorough immersion in barging and barge life), and lastly the Murrells course (while many in the DBA rave about their course, we found it to be the least useful and friendly).
[As of 2018, none of the above groups continue to actively offer barge handling training. We would now recommend the Bargecraft Training School, ]
Noble Marine Training