GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Sunday 19 May 2024
 12.4°C   SSE Light Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Reviews / A special book for everyone drawn to the sea

Ian Stephen’s book Boatlines is a unique celebration of the maritime life of Scotland

IN THIS book the author writes that “people do get romantic when it comes to boats, especially those built to elegant lines”. He talks about the ability of inanimate objects to inspire devotion, and it is this that underpins this unique book.

Right from the outset it is clear that Ian Stephen loves boats, and it is his skill of sharing his passion with the reader that makes this book so special.

This book is neither a factual nor a comprehensive history of every type of Scottish boat.

Instead, the author takes the reader for a tour around the Scottish coast, through time and place, with stories focused on the huge range of Scottish boat types. He tells the story of these boats through the lives of the people who designed, built, crewed and worked them.

Readers will be able to approach this book in different ways. Boat enthusiasts will marvel at the detail of boat construction and the explanations of the sea keeping qualities of different vessel types.

Others will be enthralled by the well written narrative about people and communities around the Scottish coast.

Most readers will have their favourite chapters. For me those about fishing boats are most memorable. Ian Stephen’s masterful and original description of the Eyemouth fishing disaster of 1881 was particularly evocative. Some may be more drawn to the chapters about cargo boats or pleasure craft. There is something here for everyone.

The book is full of masterful sketches of different boat types, all drawn by the authors wife, Christine Morrison. These are a delight to look at and complement the text perfectly.

For a book based on boats and the sea, it is however disappointing that the map of Scotland on the first page has Shetland in a box – entirely negating and distorting Shetland’s true maritime location.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


I am sure that this must be the fault of the publisher rather than the author who is clearly a man who understands the sea and recognises how far apart the Scottish islands actually are.

Other than this quibble, this is a book that anyone who is drawn to the sea and boats will enjoy.

Boatlines. Scottish Craft of Sea, Coast and Canal by Ian Stephen has been published by Birlinn, price: £16.99.

John Goodlad

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.