Open River Canoe Adventures (ORCA).

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Hudson

Full Member
Jun 30, 2017
19
23
London
Hi, I’ve been a long time lurker in the forum and have only recently stated posting.

I thought I’d write a quick review for a Canoe building course I completed last year with Open River Canoe Adventures (ORCA) in Pooley Bridge, The Lake District.

ORCA offer amongst other things) four day workshops where you get to build your own Canoe out of marine plywood in their very photogenic lakeside workshop.

They have several different designs of Canoe that they have developed over the years, and all can be customised to some extent depending on what you want out of your canoe.

On arrival, you’re given a brief tour of their lakeside workshop and a briefing about tools, health and safety the plans for the week before you are allowed to start the build.

The atmosphere is very relaxed, with an endless supply of tea and biscuits while the two owners, Steve and Dan are always available for advice or to help with the build if you become stuck at any point.

Steve and Dan clearly have a load of experience with both canoeing as well as the general outdoors-y-ness, Steve having previously worked as a Bushcraft Instructor at Woodsmoke and Dan being an Outdoor Education Instructor.

Having chosen which canoe you would like to build, you are provided with *pre-cut sheets of plywood and guided through the process of slowly bending and shaping the canoe together with cable ties, fibreglass and lots of epoxy resin.

The steps involve in making the canoe are very simple and you need surprisingly little help once you’ve got off to a start. By the end of my first day I had already managed to join all of the pieces of the canoe into a roughly boat-like shape and was ready to I’ve onto joining the pieces with epoxy the next morning.

The boat takes shape over around three days, but this is slowed down by having to wait for fibre glass and resin to set in between certain steps (more time for tea) but also allows you time to really scrutinise each seam of the boat and get everything lined up before the resin has time to set.

At least half of the people on the course had no real woodworking experience, but were still able to work largely independently after being given advice and instruction by the instructors.

Regardless of their level of experience, everyone on my course was able to finish the week with a painted canoe and a quick paddle on Ullswater, before packing up their boats and taking them home.

I cannot recommend ORCA enough, the four days flew by (guided by the exceptionally friendly Steve and Dan) and built a Canoe that I am still immensely satisfied with.

*There is the option to cut your own plywood should you wish, but no one on my course appeared interested in the extra work).
 

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Danqrl

Member
Jan 14, 2021
35
16
41
Derbyshire
Excellent, I was hoping someone on the forum would have an experience to share with ORCA. Myself and my wife are really looking forward to building a canoe with them. The next lot of course dates are being published on their website in August.
 

Hudson

Full Member
Jun 30, 2017
19
23
London
Excellent, I was hoping someone on the forum would have an experience to share with ORCA. Myself and my wife are really looking forward to building a canoe with them. The next lot of course dates are being published on their website in August.
I’ve since built a second canoe using their plans (which you can buy from them).

Made a few changes such as having higher sides on the canoe and a few purely cosmetic changes.

Have a great time!
 

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