Even though a punt moves through the shallowest of waters if a passenger is not a strong swimmer, it can be a bad experience for them. Most operators are highly skilled at maneuvering a punt safely, but there is always a risk of capsizing, especially if the chauffeur is new or if another tourist onboard starts rocking the boat. Many things can go wrong, and it’s always better to take the necessary precautions before going on your Cambridge punting tour. Most punting tours are organized by reputable operators, but some chauffeurs offer a self-drive or are inexperienced. This is dangerous because punt boats are significantly heavy and need a lot of practice to navigate and maneuver safely, especially around the Cambridge University area where the waterways are extremely narrow. Many self-punts also crowd the area because they want to make money from tourists. This causes a lot of traffic on the waterways and boats can often hit each other while passing.
Riders should keep their hands inside the boats because their fingers risk getting crushed every time another punt boat passes by closely. Skilled chauffeurs are in no rush to complete tours and pay more attention to safety. If they see a punt boat coming from the other side, they will stop and give it plenty of space to pass and avoid any accidents. Make sure you use an operator who demonstrates patience and has undergone safety training.
If your tour group has any small children or elderly people, they should be seated in the middle of the boat. This way, if any collisions occur, they will not be in danger of tipping overboard and falling in the water. Never sit too close to the edge of your punt because if another boat does hit, you could get hurt.
Keep a watchful eye for weirs and sluice gates. There are two of each on River Cam, and the water is usually low enough for them to be safe. However, try and stay away from them as much as possible because if safety buoys aren’t present, you could get sucked down the water, especially if it rained heavily before your trip. When there is an increased flow, small waves can form, and they can trap those who are not careful. To avoid a drowning accident, choose the best tour operator who has a lot of experience. They should be able to identify which routes are the safest and never take risks with people’s lives just to rush through tours or take shortcuts. They should also give you a little safety briefing before the trip and remind everyone to keep their limbs inside and never sit too close to the edge. If you suspect someone is too intoxicated to be taking a ride, inform your chauffeur because you don’t want to risk having someone who might suddenly move around and tip the boat.