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.