My punting pash has got a big boost with the arrival of R.T. Rivington's Punts and Punting, a condensed version of his magisterial Punting: its History and Techniques.
A few weeks ago I mused on whether a punt might be the ideal canal boat, but worried about the muddy bottom that might be expected. Well, Rivington says:
"In recent years, undergraduates from both Oxford and Cambridge have set up long distance punting records travelling mainly on canals, using camping punts, popular 70 years ago. Their reports are favourable and it may be that outside Oxford and Cambridge the most hopeful future for pleasure punts will be on canals.
Most canals have a firm bottom for much of their width and at the few places where a bank is muddy there is always a hard bottom in the centre of the canal. There is an even depth at a convenient 6-8ft. The reaches are straight. River traffic is slow, creating no problem with wash. As compared with some owners and hirers of river launches, the users of the canals are considerate, polite and usually show interest in traditional craft."
That's it then. I'm definitely going to build a camping punt. Just as soon as I get the Bee finished - and the outlook is a bit more encouraging on that front. Yesterday I got the rest of the seams epoxied and tomorrow I will start cautiously removing ties and slapping some glass tape on.