Scotland is a fairly small country with an exceedingly long and complex coastline. One result of this is that you are seldom far from the sea. Another is that any visit to Scotland is sooner or later bound to bring you to a harbour of some shape or size: perhaps waiting for a ferry to an island destination, or simply strolling an often (but not always) picturesque quayside watching the comings and goings of the boats, the fights of the seagulls, and the rise and fall of the tide. Pretty much every resident of, or frequent visitor to, Scotland ends up, to a lesser or greater degree, a boat spotter, if only because boats of all sorts add character to their setting.
Fishing boats bring a particular attraction: there's something especially romantic about the idea of men risking (and all too frequently over the years losing) their lives in order to land their catches for the benefits of consumers across the UK and Europe in what often seem to be seriously second hand vessels. And that sense of romance is even greater in the case of the diminishing number of surviving wooden fishing boats. Scottish fishing boats were traditionally made of wood, though steel increasingly came to dominate during the second half of the 1900s. Perhaps the first surprise for a reader of "Wooden Fishing Boats of Scotland" by James A. Pottinger is that so many wooden boats were made, and that production on a significant scale continued up to the end of the 1970s.
This book provides the enthusiast with a fascinating collection of pictures of wooden Scottish fishing boats, each with a helpful and informative caption. Most of the pictures are in black and white, though there is a significant colour section in the centre, which includes reproductions of three of the author's paintings of wooden fishing boats. A very nice addition is the focus of the final quarter of the book on wooden fishing boats that have found lives after fishing. Sometimes these have been lovingly restored, though some of the images also show vessels treated less kindly by fortune, whose main contribution to the book is to demonstrate the incredible complexity of the underlying wooden structure as the outside surface rots away. A must for all lovers of Scottish fishing boats or harbours!