European Inland Waterways

Welcome to the European Inland Waterways Section

There are almost 30,000kms of rivers and canals in mainland Europe. Cruising Association (CA) members have been enjoying them safely for decades, using the wealth of free information and advice available through the CA’s European Inland Waterways Section (EIWS) as well as the opportunity membership provides of networking with others with long experience of travelling the European waterways.

The inland waterways of Europe are a great cruising area, both for newcomers to boating and for seasoned sailors seeking more tranquil waters - and of course those taking a short cut to or from the Med or the Baltic. Waterways often pass through some of the most picturesque regions in Europe, such as the Ardennes in Belgium, the Champagne region of France, the lovely Friesian lakes in The Netherlands or the half-timbered towns and steeply sloping vineyards of the River Mosel in Germany. Often one can moor right in the heart of great historic cities like Gent, Leiden or Cologne for little more than the cost of daily car parking.


Cruising Guides

We in the EIWS are also the biggest publishers of inland waterways cruising guides in English, with a total of 25 guides to the inland waterways of France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – all of which are free for members to download (or for non-members to purchase). These include eight major guides: a 107-page 'start up' guide entitled An Introduction to the European Inland Waterways; a long-established Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium; a 256-page guide to 50 Great Inland Cruising Routes in The Netherlands; a 66-page guide to Through the Netherlands via the Standing Mast Routes, a 136-page guide Through France via the Inland Waterways; a 52-page guide on Cruising the River Moselle/Mosel; a 92-page guide to Cruising the Dutch Islands of the Waddenzee and a 20-page guide to The German Rhine.


Additionally, we have 17 smaller illustrated guides to moorings on the French inland waterways covering:

All guides are in full colour, regularly updated (usually annually) with the help of EIWS members actively cruising the waterways. They are available in both A4 printed and PDF versions for use on a mobile phone or tablet. The PDF versions incorporate numerous hyperlinks to a wealth of additional information when online. CA members benefit additionally from cross-references to the CA's highly successful app, CAptain's Mate, to obtain the most up-to-date information on mooring locations and navigation restrictions as it is posted.

Non-members may also purchase the guides - either in downloadable PDF form from the CA's digital store Shopify or in print form from the print-on-demand publishers Lulu. For further details of all the guides see the CA Shop.


In addition to the invaluable information these publications provide, purchasers of the six major guides who subsequently decide to join the CA online can benefit from a 20% discount offer on their first year's membership subscription!

Finally, the Section has its own quarterly and informative Newsletter and a dedicated European Inland Waterways Forum where members regularly exchange information or seek helpful advice on every conceivable topic related to inland waterway cruising.

Meanwhile, click on this link for a free 'taster' of the Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium guide (which includes moorings and other details of the Canal du Centre).

FREE Guidance Notes

As a further introduction to what the EIWS has to offer, you can also download completely free of charge a series of invaluable Guidance Notes on a range of key subjects relating to cruising on the European inland waterways.

Trip planning on the European Inland Waterways

Sources of information on the European inland waterways

Planning for long-term cruising

Wintering in the European Inland Waterways

VHF and ATIS (Automatic Transmitter Identification System)

CEVNI rules

Amsterdam vignette for pleasure craft

Tips for cruising the French inland waterways

Inland Cruising Information for the Netherlands

Using the Waterkaarten Nederlands app

Transiting the Kiel Canal

To take advantage of this offer, just click on the relevant subject and you can download the Guidance Note on the subject of your choice.


Further member benefits

Underlying this comprehensive suite of publications are several further member benefits.

The CA's award-winning CAptain's Mate app not only links with all the Section publications so that members can post updates as they travel throughout the European inland waterways, but also incorporates a Find My Friend feature to locate and contact fellow members in one's cruising area.

It also contains details of possible Layup locations on the European inland waterways, an invaluable service when seeking places to leave a boat safely to return home for family commitments or for the winter months. Currently there are around 80 locations in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands where boats may be left both in and out of the water.

Finally, members are also kept in touch with Section affairs (and one another!) through an Annual Seminar and Lunch at CA House in London, usually in March, where both new and old members can meet to exchange information and advice, pass on experience of cruising the inland waterways and generally socialise with like-minded cruisers.

Download the EIWS flyer for a summary of the benefits of joining the CA's European Inland Waterways Section.

Forthcoming Events

There are no forthcoming events currently scheduled. From the autumn through to the spring, most Local Sections hold talks and social gatherings at local sailing clubs, pubs or other venues. Our Cruising Sections hold specialist seminars and talks at CA House during this period as well as some rallies and cruises in company during the summer sailing season.

To see all seminars and lectures see here, or the calendar of all events see here.

Interested in Finding out More?

Please contact the Section Secretary, Julian Dussek at or
CA staff at or +44 (0) 207 537 2828.

Cruising Sections


Covers the Baltic Sea, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Faroes. Holds a popular introductory seminar every spring.


Covers Western France, Spain and Portugal as well as crossing Biscay. Holds a popular introductory seminar every spring.

Blue Water

For those sailing outside of European waters. Holds a popular Blue Water seminar in the summer.


Covers waters from Land’s End to Cape Wrath. Meets at various west coast venues to share knowledge on all aspects of cruising the region.


For those cruising the south coast of the UK, Channel Islands, and France from the Belgian border to NW Brittany. Holds an annual seminar and summer rally/cruise-in-company.

European Inland Waterways

Covers over 30,000 km of navigable rivers and canals passing through over 20 countries. Annual seminar and lunch each autumn at CA House.


Covers the Mediterranean from Spain and Morocco in the west to the Levant in the east, and includes the Black Sea. Meets at CA House in the winter, and afloat in the summer.

North Sea

Covers the UK, Belgian and Dutch coasts. Meets at East Coast venues to share knowledge on all aspects of cruising the region.

Local / UK Sections


For members who live in Australia and New Zealand and who sail in the Northern Hemisphere.

CA London

CA London events are held at our Limehouse HQ.


Meetings held at Blackwater Sailing Club and mid-week lunches arranged.


Kent Section's 'Winter Warmers', talks by a variety of speakers, will be held via Zoom for the forseeable future.


Summer rallies with weekend meets. Winter talks with ‘club’ suppers usually at a Hamble yacht club or marina.

South West

For members living in or cruising the areas from Portland Bill to the Isles of Scilly and along the north coast of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset to Bristol.


Joint meetings are arranged with the Royal Harwich Yacht Club at Woolverstone.

Thames Valley

Winter talks are held in partnership with the Gerrards Cross Sailing Association (GXSA) at Colston Hall at The Memorial Centre in Gerrards Cross.


Talks are held at Lilliput Sailing Club, Poole.

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