Iain Oughtred: A life in wooden boats by Nic Compton

 Throughout history boats have played a pivotal role in pursuits such as exploration, war, transport, fishing and recreation.
Started in the 1970s by people sometimes referred to as 'Salt Water Hippies', there has been a renewal of interest in designing and building small boats in wood.
Based on traditional designs, plans are often adapted and improved to produce craft which are affordable, beautiful and functional.
Wooden boat festivals and shows are now staged annually throughout the world.
The best designers gather what could almost be described as a cult following and one of the best is the subject of this book, Iain Oughtred: A Life in Wooden Boats by Nic Compton.
This is not your typical biography as much of it is given over to Oughtred's drawings and beautiful photographs of his revered boats often on scenic lochs in the Scottish highlands.
The book also includes articles by Oughtred which were previously published elsewhere.
Australian born into a middle class, strict Presbyterian family, Iain was an awkward child who failed as a scholar.
He had an interest in boats and sailing would later bring him unsought recognition, but as a young man he grew to reject what he saw as a materialistic Australian culture.
Sailing to England, he lived the alternative lifestyle. Eventually after travelling through Scandinavia he realised that he had an affinity with boats which would not be denied. Settling into a frugal life in the north of Scotland, where he still lives, Iain began to put together what has become one of the best known catalogues of wooden boat designs.
Oughtred still designs on paper rather than computer. Whilst some are designed to be rowed, most are sailboats. His boats are regarded by some as works of art. The designs take their cues from as far back as the boats of the Vikings and other seafarers such as local fishermen. Some designs have been built in their hundreds, by professional and amateurs in sheds in back yards all over the world.
The author, Nic Compton, has given us a thorough and thoughtful insight into the alternative and sometimes reclusive but always interesting life of Iain Oughtred.
Obviously not a book that will have wide appeal, I found Iain Oughtred: A Life in Wooden Boats to be a very enjoyable read.