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Safety Considerations when punting


May 21st, 2018

Safety Considerations of Punting

Cambridge punting is mainly safe with comparatively few injuries and extremely rare mortality rate when compared to other outdoor activities. As with any boat ride there are some potential dangers which you should be aware of.

Hazards on the river

There are several hazards which you should be aware of. The main ones are self-drive punts, the weir and of course deep water.

Self-drive

Organised punt tours are the most common types of punting, however, some companies still offer self-drive. This is a hazard which arguably should only be available to skilled drivers. Punt boats are very heavy and take practice to manoeuvre safely. During busy times the river is infested by a minefield of self-drive punts. Even a skilled Chauffeur will have difficulty avoiding these amateurs, and every bump has the potential to crush fingers. We recommend avoiding self-hire, and picking a company who employ patient Chauffeurs who take their time to steer well clear of self-driven punts. Small children or seniors should be seated towards the middle of the boat so that they are less exposed to collisions.

Weirs and Sluice gates

There are two weirs and two sluice gates on the Cam. For most of the time, the volume of water is low enough that these water features pose little to no threat, however it is recommended that you steer clear at all times. Where safety buoys are not present there is always a danger of being sucked down the falling water, of course, the risk increases with increased flow following heavy rain. During periods of increased flow, a standing wave can form where the water flows out, in some cases this wave has the potential to trap and drown you. This risk is worst under the sluice gates.

Deep water

Any water comes with a risk of drowning. It is recommended that you ask for a life jacket if you are not a swimmer. The risk of capsize is virtually zero at Scholars Punting because all our boats are built robustly and maintained to a high standard. We recommend that you go punting with a company who practice safe loading with mooring ropes for loading.