On the Norfolk Broads a quant is used to propel yachts, especially those lacking an engine, when the wind does not suit.
A quant is used not only to propel such craft, but also to steer them by acting as a rudder. The operator of the quant can stick the quant behind the barge or punt to determine the direction of travel.
The operator stands at the back of the barge or punt. The angle at which the quant is held depends on the depth of the water and the desired speed of travel. A steeper angle is required for deeper water (the bottom of the quant must be able to reach the bed of the river or canal) and a shallower angle required for speed. The operator drives the quant downward and slightly backward to push the craft forwards. The operator then walks down the side of the boat, facing aft and braced against the quant pole, the boat being propelled forward at the speed he walks. To reverse, the quant can be pushed forwards. The quant is then pulled out of the water by placing hand over hand on it and pulling upwards (as if one were climbing down a pole).
By dragging the quant at angle behind the barge or punt upon the water, the craft can be made to turn. The craft will slow on the side on which the quant is in the water, so the craft will move into that direction. The greater the angle made between the quant and the barge or punt, the greater the turning angle. This effect can be enhanced (greater turning force) by pushing the quant forward through the water on desired direction side of the craft.
See also Setting pole