Escargot by Phil Theil


Phil says: ESCARGOT is one of a series of small boat designs using pedal-powered screw propulsion. It was developed for cruising on the sheltered waters of inland canals, and to fill the gap between canoes or kayaks and motor-driven cabin cruisers. It provides simple live-aboard facilities for two plus one, in association with quiet, non-polluting aerobic human-power propulsion.

Based on a square-ended punt-like hull with dimensions of 18′-6″ x 6′-0″ it is built of exterior-grade plywood and soft wood framing. Accomodated under 4′-6″ sitting headroom (see “other notes” below)  are two berths forward, with an access hatch over, followed by toilet and hanging space and then a “salon” with table seating and food preparation counter. (The table lowers to provide a third berth.) Aft of this is an open cockpit with the two side-by-side pedaling positions. An outboard swing-up rudder is controlled by a tiller from either position. Propulsion is provided by two swing-up “Seacycle” drive units in wells built into the hull and transom. At a sustainable pedaling rate of 50 rpm the boat moves a leisurly 3-4 miles per hour. (See “other notes” below)

Shantyboat Living Feedback:


Very easy to build, even though it is rather large. Forgiving of building errors.

Very capable when the water gets shallow.

Material cost won’t kill you.

Includes a large bed, small kitchen, head, and either a large living room or built in tables and chairs and larger kitchen.

Has proven VERY popular and gets attention no matter where I go.


Only for calm waters.

Pram bow usually works, but in conditions with lots of boat wakes the front end can slam into waves. It’s not common, though.

The more macho you are the less likely you will go for the design. Though it could be the lace curtains and the colors that make bearded hunters and good old boys nervous.

Other notes:

Not too bad to tow really, though it does SEEM big back there. When people see it in the water they are shocked that it can be towed home by a modest van.

The original design called for pedal power, but after the designer rode in my boat with an outboard he has made that standard in all plan sets.   I also increased the headroom inside by 6 inches, which is HIGHLY recommended. If you want full head room go  with his JOLI design.



Detailed working drawings and construction procedures for the advanced amateur builder are available for $150 US from:

Philip Thiel, 4720 Seventh Avenue NE, Seattle WA 98105 USA.

Originally posted 2011-09-24 16:28:35.

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