In Olde English the word punt refers to a sort of flat bottomed ferry boat. There doesn't seem to be a lot of difference if referring to a sail boat or paddle boat. This particular "punt" is definitely flat bottomed. It is about 16 feet long and about 3 feet wide mid way along. The sides are nearly vertical realizing a quite sharp chine between side and bottom. The boat has a very shallow draft and low freeboard of about 12 inches.
This design was accomplished in the mid 20th century as a duck hunting platform. Indeed, recent drawings for the boat include a "tray" at the front in which a shotgun can be laid. This "duck punt" should be able in the task of sneaking up on ducks in reedy marshes. The shallow draft and low profile would serve the hunter well. The effectiveness was further enhanced by the installation of a virtual cannon for dispatching maximum birds per shot. The canon affixed to the bow was a 2-gauge shot gun. This thing has a muzzle about the size of a child's fist and a kick like a well aged draft horse.
For the curious, here is a connection to a more complete description of the 2 gauge shotgun. You Tube - DUCK PUNT SHOTGUN The folks at "Field and Stream" seemed to be impressed.
The duck punt was committed to formal design by John Milgate at the turn of the new century. The drawings for this version of the duck punt call for construction using 9 mm plywood (roughly 3/8 inch) bent around "frames" and trimmed out with basic 10 x 25 mm (1 x 2 inch) common wood. The boat comes to a point at the bow end and almost to a point at the stern. Ample row chocks are provided and a mast step is shown about 38% aft of the bow. So, one could assume this punt is intended to serve as a sailing vessel - at least in part. However, the design includes neither a leeboard or rudder. The function of both of these expected features a re accomplished by dragging a paddle over the lee side of the craft while sailing. Actually, I am looking forward to the learning experience of mastering this boat.There has been something of a revival of interest in this boat as it offers features of low cost and "quick to build" both of which are attractive to first time builders. The revival was definitely helped along by Dylan Winter of the "Keep Turning Left" adventure. Dylan set about building a Duck Punt from these same drawings a couple of years ago and went on to sail it solo and with a larger fleet. Interestingly, he built his punt complete in one week. And, others claim accomplished similar feats. Dylan is well known for his video editing skills displayed here in a description of his build (or unbuild as it were). You Tube - Unbuilding a Duck Punt. More about my building experience later
John Milgate's version of the Duck Punt is readily fitted with the sail and rigging from an Optimist racing pram. This sail is about 35 square feet in size, configured as a sprit plan and not likely to overpower a duck punt. Again, the Optimist is a mid 20th century design used to train young kids the finer points of racing. Thousands have been built and there are multiple sources for sails and such including the used market.As you may have figured out, I decided to build one -- a duck punt that is. Why build? and Why build a Duck Punt? Both good questions but one can really only rationalize the answers after the fact. For the moment I summarize the answer to the first by saying I am a hopeless romantic and optimist when it comes to building things. And I love the creative excitement behind almost any design and build process. As to the second question, I really wanted to build something a bit more challenging like a Paradox or SCAMP but really was not sure I had appropriate facilities to tackle these jobs. Moreover, each of these required a significant commitment of money as well as time. Instead, I opted for a minimum commitment just to see if I could do it. After all, Dylan and others accomplished the build in a week or so. Turns out, my decision was a good one as this first attempt at building a simple boat took over four months of retirement time.
So, how does it sail? Judging from the videos in Dylan's collection it must do quite well. Of course there are some new techniques to master when substituting an oar for leeboard and rudder. Personally, I am intrigued by this "feature". I hope to add to my overall sailing experience by learning to sail this one. Of course, more on that here.