Dan 07963 852 547

Steve 07706 244 891




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


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.


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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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.


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. 


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.


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.

Redtail paddles
Grey owl paddles
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Steve +44 (0) 7706 244 891

Dan +44 (0) 7963 852 547

Website Design by Daniel Platt  Line art form Cache Lake Country by Henry B. Kane
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