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Dan 07963 852 547

Steve 07706 244 891

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ORCA

CANOE BUILDING WORKSHOPS

IN THE LAKE DISTRICT - POOLEY BRIDGE

WHO WE ARE


Well, we are a few good 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. White Steve is cutting out canoes and thinking of the next great canoe building method, Dan is normally sweeping the workshop while waiting for the computer to load so he can edit the website, while Justin does all the work!!


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.

steve smith

STEVE

Daniel Platt

DAN

justin

JUSTIN

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

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

Justin arrived in the Lake District 25 years ago. After a short visit, assisting at a prestigious local outdoor education centre, I instantly decided to make it my home. From day one, He fell in love with the lakes, mountains and local characters that lived in the area and soon met Steve and Dan and began a truly unique and inspiring journey exploring the local mountains, lakes and rivers. We rock climbed, scrambled, walked, biked, skied and camped, got lost! got found and paddled as often as possible. Justin has been one of the best freelancer instructors in the Lake District, and other mountain areas, for the past 15 years and also set up and runs his own out door adventure business called mountain memories. He has built a fleet of ORCA Lakelanders that he uses to take people out in on his unique Sunset Canoe trips. He has far more qualifications than Steve or Dan, to many to mention here, but is still working towards his canoe craftsman lever 1!! ( thats a joke! there is no canoe craftsman qualifications… but Justin is the best of the best! 

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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