August 2012 marks the bicentenary of the pioneering voyage on the Clyde of Europe's first sea-going commercial steamship, the Comet. In the years thereafter, steamers transformed the life and culture of Scotland's West Coast communities. They shrank distances to the islands and enabled the parallel movements of islanders to the Central Belt and, in the opposite direction, tourists in search of romantic inspiration. From the elegant paddle steamers of the nineteenth century to today's modern ferries, this volume examines in detail the ships, the companies and the social and cultural changes they helped bring about. Lavishly illustrated with over 200 images, this book is a must for anyone interested in the history of steamer services in Scotland and modern short sea shipping in general.