Written by Sebastian Ohly:
A coach on the waterways – that was what Jan Rademacher, a boatbuilder from Berlin, thought when he built his first boat in 2010 for operating a houseboat rental company. Consequently he labeled his canal boats Wasserkutsche – the German expression for a coach on the water.
Now in 2012, Wasserkutsche faces it’s second season of successful operation and has grown up to a fleet of 3 boats. Jan Rademacher has built all his boats by himself – each boat worth about 30,000 $ including worktime and materials. For a regular Shantyboatliving-reader, it’s hardly difficult to recognize the Escargot-design of Phil Thiel. Jan modified it slightly. Special features of a Wasserkutsche are a hybrid propulsion system, using a generator and a torqueedo-outboard engine, the enlarged cabin allowing even tall people to walk inside and a special rooftop similar to a catwalk. While cruising or camping, two or more people can take a sunbath or relax. Furthermore, each Wasserkutsche is different: Jan gave each boat a different exterior color thus making them unique.
In the area of Berlin, the Wasserkutsche is as unique as the region is. Berlin – the famous German capital with an historical importance on a global scale – is connected to a unique system of canals, rivers and lakes that penetrates a huge area of hundreds of square miles up to the Baltic Sea. It’s not only an historically important city and the political capital of Germany – it’s also one of the German cultural epicenters with a huge and rich cultural life well worth visiting. And Berlin is huge – more than 4 million people live in a space less than 40 squaremiles. It’s one of the reasons why Jan Rademacher created his houseboat rental company: Being or living in a huge and crowded city, an easily and affordable retreat on the water is the perfect way to escape the city while not leaving. And that’s what Wasserkutsche is basically – a cheap, simple but comfortable way to escape the noise and the crowds of big city life.
Though Jan’s company is one among many companies in Berlin, it’s unique as it uses low impact boats with electric propulsion. Those who tried out both systems know the difference in terms of noise and costs. Currently, a gallon of gasoline costs in Germany 6 dollars and a boat usually needs 2-3 gallons per hour while cruising. In contrast, recharging batteries in a marina costs something around 2 $ – sufficient for 4-8 hours of cruising. For 2013, Jan has plans for a 26′ Wasserkutsche.
Originally posted 2012-12-03 08:08:52.