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
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.