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Phil Thiel of Seattle, Washington, has inspired a whole fleet of tiny human-powered houseboats in the United States, England, and Germany. He calls his quaint canal cruisers Escargots for their slow speed and sells the building plans for just $150. Each 18.5′ by 6′ houseboat fits up to three bunks and is propelled by a combination of pedal and solar power.

The solar drive isn’t strong enough to allow for direct solar power propulsion and the best way to move about is to pedal. At a pedaling rate of 50 rotations per minute, Thiel’s design can puff along at four miles an hour. Keep in mind that the average cyclist pedals at around 60 rotations per minute and professionals can do nearly twice that!

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Human-powered Floating Home

A cute and cozy Escargot canal cruiser

Thiel, now 91 years old, is a naval architect who started enthusing about and building human-powered boats when he was a teenager. Born in Brooklyn and now relocated to Seattle, Thiel has only driven an automobile twice in his life. Houseboats, though, he’s steered plenty of times.

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This week’s tiny house is situated in the land of multi-million dollar homes.

Its owner, Fiver Brown, has found a life hack to live frugally in this area.

How? A floating home. It’s a former World War II lifeboat that was converted into a 481 square foot house in 1967.

San Francisco Bay 481 Square Foot Houseboat

The boat is 13′ x 37′ with fantastic views of the bay. Fiver says he sees stingrays, seals, fish and birds from his kitchen and loft windows.

His little house is paid off so all he has to worry about is the boat slip rental at Galilee Harbor Co-op which is located in central Sausalito, California.

FYI: Sausalito is just north of San Francisco if you used the Golden Gate Bridge to get there. The community is composed of:

  • Artists
  • Marine workers
  • Creative writers
  • Painters
  • Photographers
  • Boat-builders
Tiny House of the Week: Fivers Houseboat in San Francisco Bay

Screenshot Courtesy of Faircompanies.com on YouTube

Video tour and interview below:

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