How to Get Around in a Punt
A punt is a type of flat-bottomed boat which is propelled by pushing against the bottom of the river with a long pole. Punts are normally used as pleasure craft, and are traditionally associated with the English university cities of Oxford and Cambridge. Christchurch in New Zealand also has punts. Although popular with tourists and students alike, they can be difficult for beginners to control.
Hire a punt.A punt is usually supplied with a pole, seat cushions, and a small paddle (for emergency use only). If selecting a pole yourself, hold it upright and spin it around to check that it is straight.
Stand at the stern of the boat.Stand as close to the end as possible and facing to one side. Grip the pole with both hands, holding it vertically and with one end in the water. If you are right-handed, your right hand should be below your left. Ensure that the pole is the correct way up: the bottom end will often have a 'shoe' on it to grip the river bed, which is occasionally mistaken for a handle.
To lift the pole, raise your right hand and allow the pole to slide through your left hand.At the same time,bring your left hand downwards to meet the right.When your hands are close together, reverse the action: lift with your left hand whilst sliding your right hand downwards. Repeat until the pole is clear of the water.
Angle the pole so that it is pointing slightly underneath the boat, then throw it downwards, allowing it to slide through your hands.Do not attempt to lower it gently, as it tends to float.
When the pole hits the river bed, tighten your grip and begin to push downwards.Pass it through your hands as if you were trying to climb up it.
Once your hands have reached the top of the pole, bend down to give a final shove.
If the river bed feels soft, give the pole a slight twist to release it from the mud.
Stand upright and allow the pole to trail behind you.The pole can now be used like a tiller for steering. If you swing the top end of the pole to the left, the punt will turn to the right and vice versa.
Prepare for the next stroke by lifting the pole out of the water in the manner described above, gradually rotating it back to vertical at the same time.
Repeat this cycle a few times per minute to keep the punt moving.
- Sharp turns can be achieved by tilting the pole to one side as it is thrown downwards, so that the stern is pushed sideways as well as forwards.
- To turn on the spot, trail the pole behind you and swing it in an arc from one side of the boat to the other. If necessary, lift it out of the water, move it back to the other side, lower it again and repeat.
- If the bow swings to one side during the stroke, stop pushing immediately and steer the with the pole to correct your course.
- The steering tends to be rather sluggish, so plan ahead and start turning well before you reach an obstacle.
- Beginners are advised to wear a short-sleeved shirt and carry a towel, as the pole tends to drip onto your forearms. Advanced punters can avoid this problem by angling their wrists downwards.
- Punting should not be a strenuous activity. Allow the punt to coast for a few seconds in between strokes.
- Most punts can carry four or five passengers, so take turns with the pole.
- For the truly authentic experience, take a punnet of strawberries with you.
- The person using the pole should be able to swim, as there is a risk of falling into the river.
- Beware of getting the top end of the pole caught in tree branches or against the underside of a low bridge. It could be pulled out of your hands, or knock you into the river.
- If you are travelling at speed and the pole gets stuck in deep mud, it may pull you off the back of the boat. Let go before this happens! You can always use the paddle to go back and retrieve the pole.
Video: Longest Punt | NFL football punters see who can kick the farthest
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