PREFACE: Introduction, Slug, Kittiwake, Racundra, The writing of Racundra's First Cruise, On the Pirate Ship; RACUNDRA'S FIRST CRUISE; APPENDIX: A Description of Racundra, Racundra after Ransome, Chronology, Bibliography, Acknowledgements.
Arthur Ransome, world famous for the hit series Swallows & Amazons, had, as a young man in 1913, gone to Russia as a foreign correspondent and journalist. He fell in love with Evgenia, Trotsky's secretary, whom he later married. Together they owned two small yachts before commissioning the building of Racundra in 1922 at Rigia in Latvia. Their first cruise in their custom-made yacht took them from Lativa, via Estonia, to Finland and back. Brian Hammett was given a copy of Swallows and Amazons for his tenth birthday, and was immediately captivated by both the story and the author. The first boat he had was a closed canoe and he called it Swallow. He went on to join the Arthur Ransome Society and became an Arthur Ransome expert, discovering the unpublished Racundra's Third Cruise in Leeds University library. He has cruised the Baltic himself, following Ransome's cruises in the area.
"Ransome's descriptive prose is a pleasure to read... it is surely a nautical classic." (RNSA Journal); "Ransome makes us share his pride in his ship, and the thrill of satisfaction that is felt in picking up the landmarks." (The Times Literary Supplement); "Ransome has managed to get a true yachtsman's enthusiasm into his pages, and his readers will enjoy his vivid account of streering with a defective compass and his frank confession that he went to sleep at the tiller." (The Observer); "Whether for yachtsman or landsman Ransome and Racundra make good reading." (Manchester Guardian); "His experiences and adventures in fair and dirty weather, the places he visited, the primitive life of the Estonian islanders, some extraordinarily beautiful anecdotes and the charm and humour of Mr. Ransome's writing, form a book of which there is little to be said than that it is altogether delightful - a pleasure to read from beginning to end." (The Spectator); "Brian Hammett guides us through this delightful introduction where Ransome grapples with the practicalities of boat ownership and learning to sail... capturing the very essence of how a man can be utterly absorbed and captivated by the delights of getting afloat and cruising in his own boat." (Sailing Today); "Ransome expert Brian Hammett has wrapped up the original manuscript with a treasure trove of additional information that will have Swallows & Amazon devotees ripping through this before the tide's turned. The maps, text and photos from the first edition are included, as well as details of Ransome's first boats Slug and Kittiwake. A hair-raising account of our hero's first attempt at Baltic sailing and his wry comments along the way make this a must for all sailing fans." (Dorset Echo); "Much more than a simple reprint of the 1923 edition. Brian Hammett has put in a tremendous amount of work and background research."( Old Gaffer's Log)