Dolphin was conceived as a special project by the Rotary Club of Parkstone in 1979 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rotary International. The aim was to provide a specially equipped sturdy, safe boat to give free pleasure trips to disabled persons of all ages and disabilities in Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. With volunteers recruited, funds were gradually raised, and a large amount of equipment donated or provided at discount together with much help from Rotork Marine, ‘Dolphin I’ was launched on the date of Rotary’s 75th Anniversary, 23rd February 1980, and made its first trip on 1st August 1980.
There was a lack of suitable facilities for disabled persons on normal pleasure craft in Poole Harbour and both Dolphins I & II were ideally suited for embarking disabled passengers with their bow ramps, initially from the slipway at Baiter Park, and then for many years thanks to the kindness and co-operation of the Royal Marines from their base at Hamworthy.
The Friends of Dolphin, a Charitable Trust, was formed by the Rotarians with directors representing Rotary, D.A.D., Scout with special needs, Soroptomists, Rotaract, Lions and Round Table, and the boat with funds were transferred to it on 21st August 1982. Everyone associated with Dolphin is a volunteer, and all monies and donations go directly to the running of Dolphin. In 1990, ‘Dolphin II’ was purchased, and remained in service up to 2002. Our 10,000th passenger was carried in 1993, and in August 2001 our 20,000th was welcomed on board, both milestones being marked with a presentation by the Mayor of Poole of the time. On 18th July 2007, the Mayor of Poole made a presentation to our 30,000th disabled passenger aboard Dolphin III at the Haven Marina, Poole.
Thanks both to the local Fisherman Association of Poole and the Poole Harbour Commissioners a berth in the new Fisherman’s Haven was made available to us. This provided us with a great opportunity to make significant improvements in the comfort and safety of our passengers, together with the facility of being able to board direct from the pontoon at the Marina. The Directors decided on a boat designed and built by Cheetah Marine, and an appeal was launched in January 2002. Our appeal target was reached and our new ‘Dolphin III’, a new boat for a new era, went in to service in August 2002. In 2003, her first full season of operations, she was a great success, and continues to be so. We now have a new Dolphin III, with much improved facilities, continuing to give trips to disabled individuals and groups.
To Donate please click HERE and search for Friends of Dolphin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please see some of the common questions we get asked about our trips.Can’t find a question you’re looking for?
Yes, please ring the Booking Secretary on 01202 875867 as soon as you know you need to cancel. By doing this we can offer your places to someone else.
Please arrive 15 minutes before the time of your trip.
Please wait opposite the Tesco convenience store for a member of our crew who will be wearing a bright yellow polo shirt.
The harbour trip lasts approximately 2 hours.
The Wareham trip lasts approximately 4 hours and includes a stop off at Wareham quay where you may like to purchase fish and chips for your group before returning to Poole Quay. Ask the crew when you get on board.
Passengers cannot get off the boat at Wareham Quay.
Please let us know as soon as possible so other people may book the trip.
Dolphin is run entirely by unpaid volunteers. We have no paid staff.
The trips are free of charge. We rely on donations to keep us afloat!
If the weather is not suitable for a safe and comfortable trip it is cancelled and the skipper will contact you to let you know. Please ensure you have given us a telephone number so that you are contactable at all times.
If it is just inclement weather the deck area where you sit is covered and has transparent side covers too.
No. Only the crew.
Dolphin III waits for passengers in Poole Quay Boat Haven, Poole Town Quay, Poole, Dorset. BH15 1HJ
Passengers should not enter Poole Quay Boat Haven without a member of the crew from Dolphin III
You can drop off your passengers opposite the Tesco convenience store on Poole Quay.
There are plenty of Car Parks in the area, click on the link to see more information:
Yes, there is a wheelchair accessible toilet on board.