Husband and wife team, Warren & Jo Ladd have 25 years’ experience in running tourism experiences in the Whitsundays. Their vision was always to focus on sharing with guests the experience of sailing a heritage Tallship combined with the underlying theme of sustainability and eco tourism. In recent years, young family member Ena has also joined the family business to carry on the enterprise into the next generation.
The tours tread lightly on the fragile environment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, allowing guests to relax guilt free and get involved and learn about the Great Barrier Reef with the passionate crew.
Back in the 1990’s Tallship Adventures lead the way to became the first sailing tour in the Whitsundays to obtain ecotourism accreditation (formally NEAP), and went on in later years to become the first Advanced Eco Accredited overnight sailing tour, proudly today Tallship Adventures is listed as a Green Travel Leader with Ecotourism Australia.
Originally specialising in overnight sailing tours, since 2012 Tallship Adventures has focused on low impact day tours delighting guests of all ages and nationalities. The Derwent Hunter Tallship Reef Adventure operates to private moorings at dedicated sites where the crew help monitor the reefs through the Eye on the Reef programme for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The passion to sustain a heritage ship goes hand in hand with sustainability within natural areas.
At Derwent Hunter, our people are as important a part of your day as the ship itself, and we’re lucky enough to have a team of fantastic staff, who are as passionate about sailing in the Whitsundays as we are.
Our crew spend their days ensuring that your sailing experience of the Whitsundays is the best it can be. They sail the ship, steer the course, hoist the sails, monitor the reef, and love showing our guests how to do the same. They prepare the food, drive the tender, fit your snorkelling equipment, and generally help you to have an amazing day out in the Whitsundays.
Jo is part of the husband and wife team who own Derwent Hunter. Jo is the cheerful voice on the end of the phone and the smiley welcoming face at the marina.
After graduating uni in the UK and travelling the world, Jo fell in love with Airlie Beach and a salty sea dog named Warren Ladd. She married him on board the Derwent Hunter in 2003. Although a qualified legal practitioner, she prefers the feel-good tourism industry and loves sharing her passion for sailing and the outdoors.
The ship has been in the Ladd family for almost 25 years.
“The ship has a soul, it’s like a living thing, and very much part of the family.”
Warren has been the owner of the Derwent Hunter for over 25 years, and says that seafaring is in his blood.
The Whitsundays are a perfect sailing ground for this great old lady of the sea. She allows Warren to pursue his other passions of wildlife and nature.
His aim for the Derwent Hunter day sail experience is simple:
“We want our guests to have an appreciation of sailing on a fine piece of Australian maritime history along with a greater knowledge of just how special this World Heritage Marine and National Park is.
“Hopefully, through this experience, they may tread a little lighter on their own part of the planet and develop a deeper respect for our unique maritime history.”
21 year old family member Ena joined Tallship Adventures straight from school and is fondly referred to as part of the Derwent Hunter, in fact she was only 3 years old when she first sailed on the Hunter with dad and Uncle Waz.
Over 4 years she has progressed from host to Captain and can often be seen leaping through the rigging, hauling on lines and spotting whales from the crows nest (her favourite job). She has also achieved qualifications of coxswain, MED III and Master V skipper’s ticket.
She is a passionate environmentalist, and loves to be in the water snorkelling and then sharing stories with guests during the on board ‘fish talks’.
Ena is the ship’s eyes and ears, sees everything, is always there to help and most importantly, keeps everyone safe.
Aka “the guy down the back not doing too much”, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth!
Josh is a real old salt from a seafaring family and has spent most of his life on boats. He bought his first boat when he was 18 aptly named “First Love”, but promptly changed its name to something a little less romantic.
When not at work, Josh likes to “get away from buildings” this usually involves jumping on his own boat and heading away from civilisation for a while.
Josh’s knowledge of marine life is so extensive, we think he must have been a fish in an earlier life.
The best thing about sailing in the Whitsundays on the Derwent Hunter?
“Being under sail with 21 knots of breeze, introducing people to the whole new world out there”
Nygel has been a deckhand with Tallship Adventures for 2 years, and has spent a total of 8 years in the Whitsundays as a sailor and dive instructor.
He loves to share his knowledge with guests about the amazing underwater world through on board fish talks and there is not a lot he doesn’t know about the local area.
Nygel is currently completing engine driving qualifications and hopes to become a fully qualified Master by next year.
A couple of years ago we received the following covering letter from Kelly, with her excellent resume.
“I am looking for a new exciting adventure. I unfortunately have had no experience on a boat, but I’m fun, outgoing and enthusiastic. I would make a great host, and would love the challenge of learning how to sail a boat. I’m dedicated to anything I put my mind to, and I’m not afraid of getting dirty. If you give me a go I will not let you down!”
Kelly, our shortest crew member, has fulfilled all she promised back then, preparing beautiful food, learning the deck, taking fantastic photographs and keeping guests entertained with her infectious laugh and constant smile.
Fiona has been working as a deckhand and eco guide on board Derwent Hunter since March 2016, and has worked on board boats in the Whitsundays for 3 years.
Originally from Scotland she is super talented and has a University degree in Marine & Freshwater Biology. Fiona also has extensive experience working on the Great Barrier Reef and has submitted nearly 100 weekly logs for Eye on the Reef.
She is also a trained life guard & swim teacher.