Women’s History Vessel Felicity Ann
by Shelly Randall
The wooden boat sailed by the first woman to make a single-handed Atlantic crossing in 1952-53, sailed into Port Ludlow on June 16th and received a warm welcome from PLYC members.
The visit was part of Felicity Ann’s “Victory Lap” debut voyage with an all-women crew, calling at eight ports in three weeks to share her inspirational “floating story.”
Port Ludlow was the first port of call after the vessel’s departure from her homeport of Port Hadlock, and the voyage concluded at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union on the Fourth of July.
Rear Commodore John Morris arranged for complimentary moorage at Port Ludlow Marina, where Felicity Ann’s captain, Nahja Chimenti of Marrowstone Island, and crew of two welcomed aboard visitors at slip A1.
That evening’s Marine Exchange program was presented by Shelly Randall of Port Townsend. Her slideshow detailing the adventurous life of Felicity Ann's record-breaking sailor, Ann Davison (1914-1992), was well received. Shelly also explained how Ann’s boat ended up in Port Hadlock to begin a new life as a sailing platform to inspire and empower us all—but especially women and girls.
Felicity Ann was recently restored at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding and is now under the care of the Community Boat Project, a youth maritime education nonprofit organization.
PLYC member Liz Healy had this to say: “Thank you, Shelly, for your riveting presentation on Felicity Ann, and her new life in the Pacific Northwest. We in PLYC were especially proud that a woman took on this daunting challenge at a time when women were expected to be happy at home. Thanks to you and the Community Boat Project, Ann Davison’s amazing story will be shared with others around Puget Sound and beyond!”
Felicity Ann’s keel was laid in 1939 in Cornwall, England. Her construction was interrupted by World War II, but she was launched in 1949 and soon after purchased by Davison for her Atlantic attempt. Felicity Ann is a classic double-ender, and with a length of only 23 feet overall and no standing room, seems amazingly small for an ocean crossing. In fact, Davison’s memoir of her voyage is titled My Ship Is So Small—a line from the Breton fisherman’s prayer, “Oh, Lord, have mercy. Thy sea is so vast and my ship is so small.”
These words are carved on Felicity Ann’s new tiller, just one example of the detail and care put into her restoration.
With the efforts of hundreds of students, volunteers and professional craftspeople, Felicity Ann was re-launched in Port Townsend on May 1, her hull immersed in salt water for the first time in decades.
The Victory Lap voyage was sponsored by Kitsap Bank, whose long history in our region includes leadership by the first woman bank president west of the Mississippi. Coincidentally, Hannah Langer was elected the bank’s president in 1952, the same year Ann Davison set out to cross the Atlantic from the other side of “the pond.”
If you missed Felicity Ann, she’ll be at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in September. Learn more at www.FelicityAnn.org.
Photos Courtesy of the Community Boat Project.