The resistance offered by the water on a barge is very small. (Being in the backwaters, I have pushed/pulled a 25-ton barge or boat with little effort).
Bearings do reduce resistance, but when the weight increases, the resistance increases, so it's hard to push a car on a flat road even though it is around one ton.
Today, we have magnetic bearings with no real contact between the axle and roller cylinders. These have almost no resistance, have no wear and tear, and have higher rpm values with longer lives and no maintenance needed. Such bearings are presently used in oil and natural gas exploration industry.