Punts are not very common nowadays but no visit to Oxford is complete without a little punting.
The theory: Pushing a boat with a stick; all you need to know for a successful trip on the river Cherwell.
Getting on a Punt: The person using the pole stands at the back of the boat (this is the end that is tied to the jetty). The punter should ideally board last - lay the pole on the jetty within easy reach of the punt - you can offer your passengers a supporting hand as they board with the cushions, strawberries and Pimms.
Having boarded yourself, with the pole, untie the painter (posh word for rope), stand about two feet from the end facing the front of the boat, and holding the pole vertically drop it to the bottom of the river beside you. Lean the pole slightly forward and gently push straight behind the punt, work your way up the pole hand over hand, and when you get to the top with the pole trailing behind you, the boat and the pole should be in a straight line.
The pole has become a rudder at this stage: keep holding the end of the pole, leaving as much of the pole floating as possible, so as to make the rudder as long and efficient as possible.
To turn right, sweep the end of the pole in the river through the water to the right; and vice versa. When you are pointing in the desired direction, raise the pole through your hands to vertical, drop to the bottom and repeat. Keep watching the front of the boat.
Some parts are muddy, so if you feel the pole sinking in to soft mud don’t push too hard, give the pole a twist and yank out. If you need to let go, do so, otherwise the punt will leave you slowly sliding down the pole into the river. You can always recover the pole with the paddle.