Pedal-powered Shanty Boat

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The 18’6″ x 6′ Escargot is a pedal-powered boat designed by Phil Thiel. I absolutely love the idea of this small, easy-to-build shanty boat as a house.

The minimalist design is beautifully simple. Functionally somewhere between a motor-driven cruiser boat and a kayak or canoe — it’s perfect for eco-tourism rentals and slow houseboaters alike.

The boat is aptly named due to the fact that it only goes 3-4 miles per hour at a pedaling rate of 50rpm.

91-year-old naval architect Phil Thiel, born in Brooklyn, now in Seattle has created human-powered boats since his teenage years. According to Wooden Boat magazine, he has only driven a car twice in his lifetime. He sells fully detailed plans for $150 by mail.

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Darren Genge 01/13/2012 at 11:54 am

Love this boat……

Matt 01/13/2012 at 2:05 pm

I’m not sure how practical this would be as a home. As designed, the internal headroom is only 4’6″, so it would be impossible for nearly all adults to stand up inside. Thiel’s Friend Ship might be more suitable as a live aboard, although I believe it is designed for motor, rather than pedal, power.

Hillary 01/13/2012 at 4:53 pm

You gotta think small. For many people in liveaboard situations, head room is not a requirement.

JT 01/16/2012 at 10:30 am

Sailors tend to want headroom, as it keeps from being bashed about in rough seas and saves one from an aching back.

Raising the cabin height would increase freeboard, but a couple strips of long “keel” would do plenty to compensate for some of that. Or get a bit fancy about it and make the top “pop up” when you’re not traveling. Gotta think that this boat is designed MOSTLY for staying stationary.

Daniel 01/13/2012 at 9:15 pm

The basic concept looks great. But some of us are getting too old for peddling. I would have an electric motor and use solar panels to recharge the batteries. Oh yes, and a little more headroom would be nice.

Mary 01/29/2012 at 10:45 am

The Escargot is awesome! It has been officially added to my wish list. I don’t know how it gets any better than this for a tiny home loving pedal boater like me. Two of my passions have been wrapped up into one sweet package! I can imagine it as a snowbird home.

To Daniel, I love pedal boating because it is generally easier, safer and softer on the body than walking the same distance. It is the perfect type of exercise for our aging joints and circulatory systems.

This boat seems to have enough stand up space, plus some, if the hatches are up. And that canopy is a nice touch. I love all the windows.

Thanks for the brilliant design, Phil Thiel. I love your pedal boats.

Faye Rose 05/18/2012 at 1:35 am

Wow, I admire him because in his early teenage years he created this human-powered boat through pedaling. This boat is not that efficient today but this is a great creation or invention history for me.

Jack Stub 08/18/2012 at 10:28 am

Great post. I love the design and the concept. I’d love to have one of these little houses.

I put a link to it on my Blog – hope you don’t mind.

Todd 06/25/2013 at 5:13 pm

simply stated, I want one.

I would probably make it pop up like earlier mentioned (either light weight materials in the pop up or heavy canvas), and might steal the idea of an extra solar panel or two and an electric motor (at least for use in slightly faster water, as most American waters get seasonally quick). All that being said, I foresee me purchasing plans and taking up another project some time in the future……..

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