1) First things first - Standing on a punt |
It might seem scary at first, but don't be shy! Walk to the end of the punt and stand up on the deck. Whilst you may wobble, unless you have serious balance issues there really is no need to cling on to the edge! A good stance, is one that is wide, with bent knees, and with your rear foot slightly closer to your preferred punting side.
2) Become one with the punt
The important thing with punting is to make yourself at home. Try gently rocking the punt with your feet to get a good feel for your new best friend. Like most friendships, punting may seem a little rocky at times, but you'll soon see it's really stable!
3) Left or right? That is the question
To make the punt move, you use a rather long pole to propel yourself punting along the Cam. You can put your pole on either side of the punt, whichever is most comfortable for you. Odds are that if you are right handed you will choose to have the pole on the right side of the punt, and vice versa if you are a leftie.
4) Handling your pole
Now that you have decided which side to use, let's get this show on the river! As in life, the first push is always the hardest. Lift your pole out of the water, raising it hand over hand, then place the bottom of the pole against the outside of the boat, near your rear foot. Drop the pole into the water down to the riverbed, letting it fall through your hands. Now comes the fun bit, bend your knees and start walking your hands to the top of the pole. (Don't forget to hold on to the end once you get there!)
5) The art of navigation
So now that you have mastered "going forward", let's talk steering. After your push off, let the pole end trail behind the punt. If you drag the pole left or right through the water, you will start to turn! Use the pole like a boat rudder, turning it under water in the direction you'd like to head. If you need to turn around you can spin the boat by dropping the pole to your left or right and pushing outwards from the punt.
6) Emergency brakes
There aren't really any unfortunately, but that doesn't mean there is no hope to stop! If you need to make a quick stop, lift the pole and slide it in the water slightly forwards from your position and apply your weight. If you push down hard enough the boat will stop and may even go backwards!
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