MIT grad's solar-powered houseboat will be anchored at Bear Island for the summer

GILFORD — A solar-powered houseboat which has a dozen panels on its roof which provide enough electricity to power a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, fans and lights, as well as an electric outboard motor was launched at Fay's Boat Yard Friday morning.
Claude von Claude von Roesgen of Carlisle, Mass., owner of the boat, will be living in it all summer docked at a camp that he's rented on the east side of Bear Island in Meredith, near the Carry.
''I will be using the camp's sanitary facilities, but otherwise I will be living on the houseboat,'' says Roesgen, a 1979 graduate of MIT who runs his own computer consulting business.
''I love Lake Winnipesaukee and had been spending the last few summers renting on Bear Island. Since I work for myself doing software consulting I can work anywhere there is an Internet connection. So I was spending the entire summer on the lake. I didn't want the responsibility of owning a camp. So then it struck me that I could build a light weight version of a tiny house that I could put on a pontoon boat. That way I could have waterfront living with the flexibility of moving from place to place on the lake.''
He ordered the pontoons for the house boat, three in all, and, after realizing that the 16 foot long by 8 foot wide home he wanted would extend almost to the edge of the boat, widened the boat by adding struts.
He said that he worked with his friend and neighbor Bob Wallhagen of Wallhagen Construction Company and showed him a copy of a book on small homes and asked him to design one for him.
Roesgen says he has always been intrigued with motor homes. ''Having an environment that one could bring along and being able to move from point to point without packing and unpacking appealed to me,'' But in general he found motor homes unappealing because they offended his sense of aesthetics and smelled funny.
''Then I stumbled on the tiny house movement. These were structures that were built on trailers to avoid having to meet building codes that would otherwise force one to build a much larger house. The fact they were on a trailer made them movable of course. But they were quite heavy so moving them is expensive from a fuel point of view.'' says Roesgen.
''Bob has a master's in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, so I knew he would be able to design and construct a structure that could be lifted off of it's trailer and place on a pontoon boat. Plus I knew Bob would be able to design and construct it lightweight enough that it would be floatable on a pontoon boat,'' says Roesgen.
The boat on one trailer and the house, weighing 5,000 pounds, on another trailer were brought to Fay's Boat Yard storage facility near Meadowbrook last week and the house was placed on top of the boat and then moved by a giant forklift down Rte. 11-B and onto Rte. 11 and to the launching point at the Boat Yard Friday.
Roesgen celebrated the launch by cracking open a small bottle of champagne which his friend Carla Schwartz, who filmed the entire launch, had brought along for the occasion.
He says that the solar panels produce 2.4 kilowatts of power and that the electricity is stored in a 125 pound Lithium ion battery which can hold the charge for up to five days.
A 400 watt electric motor which produces 5.3 horsepower will drive the boat at speeds of up to five miles and hour but will more likely be used in the 2-3 mile per hour range in order to conserve power.
Roesgen, whose sense of adventure once took him to Katmandu, Nepal in 1984 to do a documentary film on a Peace Corps volunteer, says that he plans to move the houseboat to different locations.
''Other summers I may try Moosehead Lake, Lake Champlain, Erie Canal, Lake George, Lake Saratoga'' he says.

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A solar-powered houseboat was launched into Lake Winnipesaukee at Fay's Boat Yard in Gilford Friday morning. It is owned by Claude von Roesgen of Carlisle, Mass., who will be living aboard it this summer of from Bear Island in Meredith. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Claude von Roesgen, owner of a solar-powered houseboat which was launched at Fay's Boat Yard in Gilford Friday morning celebrates with Carla Schwartz and Bob Wallhagen, who built the house portion of the boat. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Claude von Roesgen, owner of a solar-powered houseboat which was launched at Fay's Boat Yard in Gilford Friday morning celebrates with Bob Wallhagen, who built the house portion of the boat. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)