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So I thought I'd introduce you to the impossibly British pass time of punting. It's form of boat found almost exclusively in Cambridge and Oxford where the shallow and slow moving rivers plus students with too much time on their hands makes its possible (you don't get anywhere fast), basically a rowing boat that you propel by pushing off the bottom with a large stick.

 

It's something most scout troops here have as a summer evening event and we were at it on Thursday night.

 

It is such an obscure activity that the scout association doesn't actually have any rules on it, unlike pretty much every other water sport. 

 

A few photos here. Plus this one. We try to invest our new scouts in some interesting places, standing up in a punt on the river was quite fun for this lad!

 

IS there anywhere in the states where you do this?

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Looks like fun, but the first thing I noticed was the lack of personal flotation devices (PFDs), a must-have for any boating activity under BSA auspices.  Our Safety Afloat program is pretty specific.

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Most water activities it is specified for us as well but as above, there's no rules for punting as it's so obscure.

 

And that is helpful because in all seriousness my risk assessment says that for those who can swim (currently everyone) what I am most concerned about should they fall in is not drowning but being hit by another punt. The river is busy, the punts are heavy and difficult to manouvre. I would want any scout in the water to be able to swim out the way quickly and not be slowed down by a buoyancy aid.

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IS there anywhere in the states where you do this?

 

Yes! In Texas we go punting all the time...but we call it "wake boarding".  ;)

 

  • Upvote 1

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Historically keelboats on shallow narrow rivers and barges on canals, were either lined or poled.  Large canoes were often poled in rapid difficult waters as well.

 

20' poles with a metal spike on the end is the tool used by the canoeist.  The canoeist stood in one place depending on whether they were going up or down stream.  The keelboat and barges were pushed under the feet of the polers who walked the side decks of the craft.

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Posted (edited)

They can also hit their heads as they fall.  Agatha Christie told me that.

 

And a "punter" can be something else entirely in the UK.   :eek:

Edited by TAHAWK

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Looks like fun but I don't know if I would want to spend much time in Oxford. From the BBC/Public TV shows we see here in the U.S people are getting murdered there on a daily basis.

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Looks like fun but I don't know if I would want to spend much time in Oxford. From the BBC/Public TV shows we see here in the U.S people are getting murdered there on a daily basis.

That was decades  - generations - ago.   :D

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@@Cambridgeskip, that looks like fun. My guess is a punt is the same as a gondola in Venice? The closest thing to that in the US is a paddle board, but a lot harder and much less relaxing.

 

@@Col. Flagg, Lake Powell is in Texas? I always thought it was in Utah and Arizona :)
 

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Posted (edited)

The two male wake boarders are pros from Austin. They board on Inks Lake.

Edited by Back Pack

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Posted (edited)

A gondola is propelled by a single oar, not a pole.

 

Same for a stand up paddle board, a single paddle.

 

With punting, the pole reaches to the bottom and pushes to propel the boat.

Edited by Stosh

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Punts are basically slightly larger jon boats[1]. They just happen to be poled instead of having a outboard motor. Jon boats are evolved from shallow drafted bateau[2] which could be poled, rowed, or sailed and were common river freight haulers in North America from 1650-1850. Presumably there was a similar ancestral craft in England.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_boat

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bateau

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Looks like fun but I don't know if I would want to spend much time in Oxford. From the BBC/Public TV shows we see here in the U.S people are getting murdered there on a daily basis.

Ah you mean Inspector Morse! It did seem to be a rather dangerous place didn't it?

 

Could have been worse. In the 1980s there was a police series set on Bergerac set in Jersey. An island with a population of around 100K. He was investigating a murder every week. Terrifying!

 

@@Cambridgeskip, that looks like fun. My guess is a punt is the same as a gondola in Venice? The closest thing to that in the US is a paddle board, but a lot harder and much less relaxing.

 

@@Col. Flagg, Lake Powell is in Texas? I always thought it was in Utah and Arizona :)

 

 

As above the Gondola is propelled with a single oar, the punt is pushed off the bottom with a pole. What's always good fun is when a novice gets the pole stuck in the bottom and fails to let go, leaving them dangling off the pole and slowly falling in. Great fun! In fact it's a sunny sunday afternoon today, I may have a stroll down to the river to watch the chaos unfold.....

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I would think that if the poles were pointed, not flat ended, the suction would not be as great.  The poles used by canoeists for poling (punting) were metal capped and pointed to stick between rocks on rocky bottom and to avoid suction on muddy bottoms.

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