It all began in 1999 when experienced Devon canoeist, Phil Sheardown, was inspired to take people out in his original 8-metre 'Voyager' canoe, Cheemaun. Man and boat together, they learned the tides, back eddies and landing spots and developed the perfect trip out on the River Dart.
Over the years and with the administrative skills of Phil's partner, Flip Williams, the Canoe Adventures fleet grew to six canoes. Three of these are the original 'Voyager' canoe. The other three are the bigger, 9-metre 'Longbow' canoes, designed, built and developed here in Totnes on the River Dart by local boat-right, Ian Bowles.
The canoes with their iconic flags have long since become a recognised feature of the upper half of the estuary and regularly feature in guides and tourist photos.
In 2016 two of Phil and Flip's steersmen, Hugh Clifford and Hal Gillmore, took over the reins, or rather the paddles, as company owners and directors and Canoe Adventures continues. They were joined in 2020 by a third partner, Mark Burton.
The Dart Harbour Authority inspects us annually and assesses all new staff, and the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, part of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), inspects us every three years.
Our Skippers / Guides all hold Boatman Licenses issued by the Dart Harbour Authority. You can read more about them here.
Our Fleet of Canoes are unique to the area and, in the case of our 9-m, 12-crew Longbow canoes that were designed and built here in Totnes, almost unique to the world! You can learn more about them here.
We're in the business of having fun and that is what we do. Whilst doing that, there are a few things that we take very seriously.
We weave all these elements into your Canoe Adventures experience, while all you have to worry about is having fun.
One is staying safe. You will be well looked after on and off the water. We have an excellent safety record. If you are interested in the legal standards we work to, this is where we have all the information required by teachers and youth leaders who contract our services.
Two is recognising that every group we meet is different and special. We are interested in all our customers and take pride in guiding them on a fun adventure with the same enthusiasm as if it was our first time out as well.
Three is that we actually provide a really important service. Our adventures enhance health and wellbeing, learning and development, and even help make the world a better place. Wow, that's one heck of a claim! How do we justify that one? Read on...
In our busy, modern lives, more and more of us increasingly struggle to access some basic day-to-day things that are pretty fundamental to our stress levels, peace of mind, quality of relationships, and general health and wellbeing. So we recognise your time on your Canoe Adventure is precious, hugely valuable and actually really important.
We believe deeply in the importance of spending quality time in nature. The positive benefits this brings to us humans scores on so many levels.
We equally believe in the importance of spending quality time together with each other, be it with family, friends, colleagues or strangers. The length of our adventures allows you to do that. Chat. Unwind. You're in great company.
We understand the importance of fresh air and healthy exercise. Our BIG canoes allow almost everyone and anyone to participate. Exercising while sitting down! What's not to like?
We are insanely motivated by the importance of outdoor activities for education and personal development. Most of our skippers have backgrounds in youth work and/or teaching. We have capacity in our fleet to get a whole class plus teachers out in one go.