Arthur Ransome Wiki

Racundra, built in 1921-22 in Riga, Latvia, was one of Arthur Ransome's first cruising yachts, and replaced Kittiwake.

Racundra's cruise from Riga, across the Baltic, to Helsingfors and back with Ransome, the Cook, and the "Ancient Mariner", Carl Sehmel, is detailed in Racundra's First Cruise, considered a classic of sailing literature.

Her name[]

The name Racundra is thought to be a play on the crew's names, (Arthur) Ransome, Carl (Sehmel), und (German for "and"), (Evgenia) Ransome.[1] (It is not too hard to pick holes in this suggestion, since the Ransomes were not yet married, although they were intending to, and Evgenia travelled under her fiance's name at times.)

Her details[]

Racundra was a two-masted Scandinavian double-ender ketch designed and built for Ransome in 1921-22; the dream-ship he had talked about with in Reval with Otto Eggers, who he called the best designer in the Baltic. His three requirements were that she was roomy enough to be a comfortable home for three, could be sailed single-handed, and could stay at sea when other boats headed for shelter. He wrote to his mother in 1922 You will be pleased to hear that she is twice the size of last year's, a huge creature, thirty feet long and about twelve feet broad so that it will take a miracle to upset her (Life page 256).

She was built by a Lettish boat-builder (Lehnert) who had built a small boat for him, in a shed on an island near the mouth of the Dvina River. Originally promised to be ready in April 1922, they finally took her away, though not finished, in August (the carpenters departed on August 19).

She was 29 feet 7 inches long, with a large beam of 11 feet 4 inches. Her shallow draught of 3 feet 6 inches was increased by 4 feet when the centreboard was lowered. The hull was capable of ocean voyaging, with planking over an inch thick. There was no internal ballast, but the iron keel weighed 3½ tons and was wide enough to keep her upright without legs when out of the water. She was ketch-rigged for ease of sail-handling, with only 430 square feet of canvas, and had a Skandia Swedish hot-bulb paraffin monster engine rated at 5 horsepower hidden under the companion. .

The cabin was almost 10 feet square with 6 feet of headroom. There were two wide bunks and a folding table plus many cupboards including one for a typewriter. The galley had space for 3 Primus stoves, and later a Clyde cooker. The fo’c’sle had more big cupboards and a third bunk, plus storage for tins under the flooring. The WC was on the opposite side of the companion to the galley (NBUS pages 38-41).


In February 1923 while Arthur was in Moscow, their Riga house burnt down and Genia saved little apart from a dress. The hull of Racundra in her shed was safe, but all her sails, ropes, tackle and even the tiller was burnt or stolen (Life page 260).

Racundra was sold in 1925. When they moved to the Lake District in April 1925 and bought Low Ludderburn, he could not afford to keep her and advertised her in the Yachting Monthly for £300. He received an offer from the yachting writer K. Aldard Coles of £150 in cash and £100 guaranteed (which Wardale says was equivalent to c£7,000 in 1991, not a high price). This was accepted, though when Coles offered £220 Ransome thought it meant £220 in cash and £30 guaranteed. So to avoid a row he waived the £30 provided Coles agreed to rename her and not use the name in print (Coles called her Annette II). She remained in British waters under several owners, including J M Baldock (MP) for about 20 years. In 1976 ocean venturer Rod Pickering found her in a rundown state in Tangier harbour, bought and restored her. In 1978 he left for England, but foundered on a reef north of Caracas (NBUS pages 38-41, 52).


  1. Ransome in Russia: Arthur's adventures in Eastern Europe, C. E. Alexander, Ted Alexander, Tatiana Filippovna Verizhnikova, 2003, p. 154 ISBN-13: 978-0954555405