PuNting is one of the most popular and delightful summer pastimes, and everyone will agree that there are few more charming up-river sights than a pretty, graceful-looking girl handling a punt with ease and skill.
Nowadays punting has become the accepted mode of river travel, and one sees half a dozen punts to one skiff or canoe going through the up-river locks on Saturdays and Sundays filled with gay, laughing, young people on pleasure bent.
A Comfortable Boat
The reason is not far to seek, for a punt is quite the most convenient form of craft in which to spend a long day on the river. Being flat-bottomed, there is no necessity for trimming her every five minutes, and the occupants can lounge at ease upon the comfortable cushions with which every self-respecting punt is furnished. Then, too, a small table to fit across the punt, which folds up flat when not in use, does away with the necessity for finding a landing-place for meals; while at the back of the punt there is ample space for the storing of kettles -specially contrived to boil in the boat-picnic baskets, and last, but not least, coats and waterproofs for the entire party.
The rules for correct punting are very strict, and it takes quite a week or more of strenuous systematic practice before the novice can steer a good, straight course with a couple of passengers on board in the eyes of a critical audience.
In the punting competitions for ladies, which are organised at the various regattas, style counts for at least as much as pace in the opinion of the judges, each lady competitor for this reason as a rule covering the course alone.
The choice of a suitable punt and punt-pole is most important, for it is impossible in punting to make a good effect with an inferior craft such as many watermen will hire out to the feminine would-be punter, who has evidently no idea as to what points to look for when selecting a boat.
The "Points" of a Punt
First of all, then, the longer and narrower the punt is, the straighter the course it is possible to steer with it. A short, tub-shaped boat should be strictly avoided. A 2-feet 9-inch, or at most a 3-feet punt, fitted to carry two passengers, is the widest craft which can be successfully handled by a lady.
It should be fitted with two backs fitted into grooves made in the sides of the punt, and two mattress-like cushions made the right width to fit them, and long enough also to form comfortable seats along the bottom of the boat.
Four smaller cushions should also be provided, and the entire set of cushions-if the