North Norfolk people
3rd August 2022
Sarah Hardy meets skipper Zoe Dunford as she launches her new sailing company
The best way of viewing the North Norfolk coastline is from the water and now Zoe Dunford has set up her own company, Sail North Norfolk, to take you through the creeks and coastal waters in her Stiffkey Cockle sailing boat, Selkie.
It’s a sublime experience as you navigate the salt marshes in the electric boat, using the sail as the wind dictates. Up to four passengers can be taken so it’s a very personal trip, with Zoe pointing out wildlife and local sights as you sail.
She explains: “As I sail out of Cley, Morston and Blakeney, you might spot a seal, we can stop for a swim, you can visit a remote beach or simply enjoy pottering around the coastline, perhaps calling into one of the harbours for a coffee and cake – you really get to choose!”
Zoe, aged 50, is a fully qualified skipper and worked for the Coastal Exploration Company in Wells before setting up her own business. She is also an RYA instructor, so she’ll keep you informed about what she’s doing – and maybe get you to help out!
She says that her love for sailing started when she was young as she attended a children’s club at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and as a teenager joined a local rowing club, enabling her to spend time on the water. During a career in wildlife film production, she pursued her love of the sea by researching films about sharks in the Mediterranean and shark reproduction. While working at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, she learned about a shark research project in the Bahamas. After learning to dive in Bovisand, Plymouth, in 1995, she volunteered at the project helping to gather data about the home ranges and nursery grounds of lemon and tiger sharks.
Work brought her to Norfolk where she married journalist Simon, and they have a teenage daughter, Rosa. She adds: “It’s also where I learnt to sail.”
Her trips are usually two to three hours and are dependent on the tides, so they go at various times of the day. Prices start at £25 per person, per hour. They are very relaxing and a great way to explore but be warned, Zoe’s unlimited enthusiasm and passion for the area is very catching. You’ll be learning to sail yourself before you know it!