Racundra's Third Cruise
It is a new publicationfromFernhurst books despite the fact that it is a log of a cruise that took place in 1924. It has been compiled and edited by Brian Hammett, a Ransome enthusiast, using Ransome's handwritten notes, log entries , personal descriptions and illustrations.
It covers a 6 week trip that Ransome made from Riga , up the river Aa, to Mitau with his new wife, Evgenia Shelepina, Trotsky's secretary – effectively their honeymoon.
It is in the same easy engaging style of his later books, about the children who feature in Swallows and Amazons which inspired so many of us to take to boats. He even makes fishing sound fun and shrugs off many of the minor “disasters” that occur on small boats. His descriptions of the people, the places and a now vanished way of life have a certain poignancy. I have sailed in the Baltic to some of the ports and little harbours Ransome described in his account of Racundra's First Cruise and found his navigation information as useful as a modern gps. So I do not doubt the accuracy of his trip up river. It is as inspiring as any of his other books on sailing and a great read.
The connection with the Club? Mr and Mrs Ransome were obliged to curtail their plans to sail Racundra back to England, so they sold her to a young writer called Karl Adlard Coles , who was an early member of the Little Ship Club. It does not explain, alas, how or why Ransome became so closely involved with Trotsky and his secretary at a tumultuous time in Baltic and European history.