Dan 07963 852 547

Steve 07706 244 891

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ORCA

CANOE BUILDING WORKSHOPS

IN THE LAKE DISTRICT - POOLEY BRIDGE

Grand Master canoe builder, the ideas and the experience behind ORCA, and the founder.

What Steve does not know about canoe building is not worth knowing! over 30 years of canoe building knowledge is in his brain.

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Steve Smith began his career teaching outdoor education at a small outdoor base in North Devon. His discovery of open canoeing took him to some of Britain's most beautiful landscapes and Steve was soon undertaking and leading organised trips to Scotland, France, Africa and New Zealand. For 5 years Steve worked for Woodsmoke as a bushcraft instructor, training many students in the art of wilderness living. Steve combined his second love of woodwork to produce several canoes including a fleet of five cedar-strip canoes, currently in use on Lakelander courses. He now lives in the heart of the Lake District, a stone's throw away from Derwentwater. Steve’s qualifications: BCU Kayak & Canoe Coach Level 3. Canoe craftsman level 5

Steve Smith

WHO WE ARE


Well, we're a couple of friends with a passion for creating lovely looking, really simple, lightweight canoes. We've been building canoes for the past 30 years, and have been running canoe building workshops since 2010. ORCA is the creation of Steve Smith, who used to run wilderness canoe trips all over the world, however, the workshops have proved so enjoyable, that's now all we do.


The canoes that you guys build during the workshops are our own designs. Over the years we have developed them to be quick to construct, and to produce a really light and usable canoe, that can perform well in our amazing network of waterways. Our courses are run in Cumbria, in the north of the Lake District.

ORCA TIMELINE

Daniel Platt

Master canoe builder, the brains behind ORCA.

Dans life has revolved around canoeing and building things out of wood... that look like canoes! 

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Dan Platt born in Nigeria, has been working as an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor for seven years. He has a degree in Product Design and his enthusiasm for canoeing branched out into the realm of canoe building. He spent the summer of 2007 designing the perfect sailing rig for his canoe, which was put to the test - with considerable success - on Lake Malawi later that year. Dan was involved in the New Zealand and Lake Malawi Expeditions, where he was able to perfect his bread making skills. He has also been on trips to Patagonia, Nepal, spent time working in Sri Lanka as an Instructor and travelled extensively in South East Asia.Dan's qualifications: SPA (single pitch climbing), Summer ML(mountain leader), Level 2 Kayak & Canoe, First Aid Mountain Expedition. Canoe craftsman level 6

Some of our first canoes we built were for multi day trips in far flung parts of the world. All our trips were done in canoes we built ourselves.

ORANGE RIVER CANOE TRIP

This was the trip that started it all. 7 of us took a dog-eared set of canoe plans to South Africa and built a fleet of 5 'Prospector' canoes using the tried and tested 'stitch and tape' method.
45 days into the trip, the boats and occupants still resembled their original selves, albeit a touch grubbier, slightly worn at the seams and harbouring soggy bottoms. Our trip ventured into the little known valleys and floodplains of the Orange River and was to be the catalyst for further expeditions. 

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NEW ZEALAND CANOE TRIP

In 2005, along with friends Holly, Alan and Sam, we headed to New Zealands' North island where we built three 'Stitch and Tape' canoes. We then paddled Northwards from Auckland, with little knowledge of what lay ahead or how far we could go. We spent most of our time wondering at which point the giant South Pacific swells would get the better of our homemade canoes. This film is a snap shot of our trip, along some of the most remote, wild and beautiful coast some of us have ever seen.

LAKE MALAWI CANOE TRIP

2008 saw a somewhat decrepit group of paddlers limping back from Lake Malawi, having once again built a fleet of ply canoes fit for the expedition. We paddled and sailed up the Shire River, which drains out of Lake Malawi, and continued northwards onto the lake itself. 
We encountered choking fly swarms, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, storms, 6 ft swells, malaria, scorpions, snakes and even a worm in Steve's foot. We also found that everything we had heard about Lake Malawi was true - its crystal clear waters, full of beautiful tropical fish to snorkel with (and eat), picture-perfect sandy beaches, backed by lush mango-rich forests coming right down to the waters edge, stars and sunsets like you have never seen and fantastic thunderstorms in the evenings.
Our daily meetings with the local villagers were the highlights for us, and the shoreline proved home to some of the friendliest people you could want to meet.
Lake Malawi really is quite something. It encompasses the raw wilds of Africa with dream-like paddling environments.

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