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My vector drawing of a Norfolk Wherry, based on the wherry barge ‘Albion’.
Wherries were sail and oar craft dating to 1604. These were small craft, in 1727 being of 8 tons burthen. They were sail and oar boats, fitted with hoops and canvas tilts for the comfort of their passengers. They would have provided a service carrying passengers and small perishable cargoes.
Alongside these early wherries where the bigger keels, which were transom-sterned clinker-built barges with a square sail on a mast stepped amidships of about 54 feet (16 m) by 14 feet (4.3 m) and able to carry 30 tons of goods. The keel had been built since the Middle Ages and the design probably went back to the Viking invasion. A wherry could be sailed with fewer crew and after 1800, the Norfolk Keel (or ‘keel wherry’) disappeared, since it had limited manoeuvrability and lacked speed. A wherry could also be sailed with fewer crew.