Flat-bottom craft have always been fascinating, largely because they appear so simple in their construction at first glance, made by the farmers and fishermen who used them. Beneath this facade, however, they are examples of boatbuilding at its most complex. In Britain, the best examples can be found in the boats of the Somerset Levels and Moors, rivers and coastal waters. The Somerset Levels and Moors is an area shrouded in both mystery and mythology: a world of water with traditions reaching back into prehistory and a place of legends, such as its associations with Avalon. In this area criss-crossed with shallow rivers and man-made waterways, flat-bottomed boats were until relatively recently the ideal way of getting around and Mike Smylie, with the help of John Nash of the Watchet Boat Museum, takes us through six of them, as well as providing a tribute to the people who built and used them, and those who preserve them now they have fallen out of every-day use.
Mike Smylie is a regular sight at fishing festivals in Britain and Europe, smoking herring and talking about fishing boats. He is the acknowledged expert on British traditional fishing boats. He is the author of thirteen published books and the co-founder of the 40+ Fishing Boat Association which was founded in 1995 against the background of the scrapping of decommissioned fishing vessels. He is the editor of their thrice yearly magazine entitle Fishing Boats. He is acknowledged as one of the experts on Britain's fishing industry and has been interviewed on both television and radio about the subject. He lives in Bristol.