The Beauty of a Mini Canal Boat

Beulah, based on Philip Thiel’s design, Escargot


For many of us the words “beauty” and “boats” naturally go together. A compelling example comes from the work of former Seattle-based architect and boat designer, Philip Thiel. He produced an elegantly simple and shortened canal boat design called Escargot that can be built in a standard garage by a person with average carpentry skills. Just over 18′ long, and 6′ wide, the resulting boat is trailerable, and reasonably economical to build. Multiple versions with unique variations have been constructed, as the photos here display.

I have long admired the simplicity of Escargot’s design as well as its evident functionality. I am equally appreciative of Escargot’s sister designs, in particular the larger Joli Boat. Below is a French adaptation of Escargot, named Caracole. She is shown under propulsion by a sculling oar.

Above are the basic plan details for Escargot, built with sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood and standard lumber such as 2 x 4’s.

It is the shallow draft and relative compactness of the Escargot design that permits boaters manually to propel her, whether by oars and paddles, and or by pedal-powered propellers, and into more intimate waters. The cockpit of a European pedal-propelled Escargot is pictured below.

Beulah (above) features an elegant modification of the interior plan with a raised roof to create greater headroom. As compared with that unique approach to the interior, below are two more traditional interpretations of Thiel’s plan for living arrangements.



Study plans for Escargot, as well as full working drawings, can be obtained from The Wooden Boat Store website (


  1. Stephen’ Love the boat. Are they sold anywhere already assembled? Gene Bourland, Peters dad.

    Sent from my iPad


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