Punts are flat-bottomed boats used for transportation and recreation. They lack a keel and are moved with a long stick. They are ideal for shallow waterways and tight spaces. The word “punt” comes from the Latin for “flat-bottomed boat.” They are available for hire along the Thames.
A punt is a type of flat-bottomed boat that has been used for hundreds of years to move people and goods down shallow rivers. Modern jars are used primarily for recreational purposes, although in some countries they continue to be used for cargo purposes. Most famously, punts are used for pleasure in the university towns of Oxford and Cambridge in England, where the punt has been a popular pastime for students since the 1800s.
The design of a punt is quite unique and very distinctive in the world of boat building. Unlike many other personal watercraft, a punt lacks a keel, a strong central spine that is used as a foundation in most boats. Instead, the bottom of a punt is really flat and the stand is created with the use of a series of ladder-shaped staves. The sides of a punt are relatively shallow and the ends are squared off, allowing the boat to be faced either way for the journey.
Traditionally, a punt is moved with a long stick. Punters typically stand at the front of the boat to push and then walk to the rear as they continue to push, although in a lighter modern punt, the punter may stand in place to maneuver the boat. While polling may seem relatively easy from a distance, it is actually quite challenging and there are a number of variations in the style of punting that are used in various regions of the world.
These flat bottom boats have an extremely shallow draft, making them ideal for very shallow waterways, marshes and reedy waters. They’re also easy to maneuver, once you’ve mastered the poling technique needed to move a punt. Because a punt is double ended, it is easier to handle in tight spaces than other styles of boat. Barges used for cargo typically have specially designed spaces for storage.
Incidentally, the word “punt” in reference to a boat comes from the Latin ponto, meaning “flat-bottomed boat.” This root word is also behind “pontoon.” “Punt” in the sense of football, as in sports, comes from the Midlands slang term bunt, meaning “to hit”. In regions where “punt” is used to mean “to surrender,” the word is related to the sporting term. If you are interested in poleing yourself, these boats are often available for hire along the Thames in England, and many hire establishments also offer short poleing instruction.