The Varuna was the third of three very similar steam yachts designed by the great G.L. Watson of Glasgow, the others being Mayflower and Nahma. Ordered for a wealthy American, Eugene Higgins of New York, Varuna was built of steel by A. & J. Inglis at Glasgow in 1897. Registered at 1,573½ tons gross (595 net), she measured 273 feet in length with a 35 foot beam and was rigged as a twin-screw schooner. Powered by a pair of her builder's own triple-expansion 8-cylinder engines, she could make 16½ knots under steam and carried sails by Ratsey. Unfamiliar in American waters as Mr. Higgins spent most of his time in Europe, she was wrecked on the Azores in 1909.