Propulsion and performance
It has to be assumed that the boats were paddled and there is room for up to nine
thwarts to give eighteen paddlers. Oars for rowing are not certainly known in
northern Europe until c.500BC although they existed in Ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean
earlier even than the Ferriby boats. Masts and sails cannot be proven to have
existed in the north before about 250BC although they are known in the south in
Bronze Age times. There are a few enigmatic rock-engravings of this date in Norway
which have been interpreted as pictures of boats with mast and sail.
A Ferriby boat as depicted with eighteen paddlers could do a good 6 knots in bursts
which would be fast enough for the Humber crossing at full tide. She could carry
passengers and cargo of 4.5 tons with ample freeboard. Total loaded weight of
hull, crew and cargo would be about 11 tons.