For a long time, three small oak panels found beside and beneath the starboard side of the Dauphine remained a mystery. They measured 30–34 cm tall, 20–21 cm wide and 4–5 cm thick. Their edges were bevelled and one end was rounded. Their internal faces were lined with sapwood. The outer faces of all three bore traces of a horseshoe-shaped iron fasteninger.
The function of these panels kept researchers guessing; apparently, the oak side was intended to face outward, while the internal, coniferous-wood side was meant to be seen only from the interior. The answer came from the plans of an 18-gun frigate made by the shipwright Cochois. As it turns out, these panels were used as lids for rowing ports – openings that were placed at regular intervals between the gun ports to accommodate oars. The crew would work the oars if there was no wind or to occasionally increase the ship's speed – although this would have been of very limited help.