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Felicity Ann

The Felicity Ann was sailed by Ann Davison who was the first woman to make a solo Atlantic crossing in 1952-53.

Sixty-six years after Ann Davison departed from England on her way to becoming the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic Ocean, her vessel is making a three-week "victory lap" around the Puget Sound.

The 23-foot wooden sailboat, dubbed Felicity Ann, never went back to the UK after its transatlantic voyage. Eventually it landed in Jefferson County, where its restoration was recently completed.

Sailed by an all-female crew of three, it will make open-house appearances in Port Orchard on Friday, Bremerton on Sunday, Gig Harbor on June 27 and Bainbridge Island on June 30 and July 1. The voyage is sponsored by Kitsap Bank, which has a history of female leadership.

 

"We're paying homage to a very spirited woman," said Nahja Chimenti, Felicity Ann's captain. "... And I think that it's really cool having a bunch of spirited women on board for that experience."

Chimenti, who grew up sailing on tall ships with her parents, teaches a maritime skills class at the Community Boat Project, a nonprofit that offers maritime-based courses for high school credit in the Port Townsend and Chimacum school districts.

The rest of the crew includes Ælf Wiklund, 18, a former student of Chimenti, and a rotating third member. Two more of Chimenti's students, a pair of 13-year-old twins, will each take three-day shifts.

 

Felicity Ann

 

At the Port Orchard, Gig Harbor and Bainbridge Island stops, Shelly Randall, Felicity Ann's "storykeeper" for the Community Boat Project, will give an hour-long slideshow presentation on Davison's life and how Felicity Ann made it to Port Hadlock for restoration.

 

After learning about Davison for the first time, Randall, who has a degree in maritime studies, was bewildered as to why she had never heard of her.

"After I read (her memoirs), I believed she was an unsung heroine of the maritime world," Randall said.

 

Davison, already a trailblazer as one of the few English women to have a commercial pilot's license in the 1930s, took up sailing with her husband, Frank Davison, the owner of an airfield where she worked.

On an attempted sailing to Cuba in 1949, the Davisons' boat crashed and Frank was killed. Only more determined to make the Atlantic crossing, Ann Davison learned to sail and saved up to purchase Felicity just three years later. 

Still a novice sailor, Davison departed from Plymouth, England in May 1952 and arrived on the Caribbean island of Dominica in January 1953.

 

sailing vessel the Felicity

 

"The more I learn about Ann Davison, the more I'm impressed by who she was and what she did, and the reasons why she did it, too," Chimenti said. "She didn't do it because she wanted to prove a point to the world, she just did it because she wanted to prove a point to herself." 

Randall said she believes Davison's story was "lost" because she was breaking the mold of gender roles at a time when Queen Elizabeth II in royal regalia was the model of femininity in England. 

Davison's boat, Felicity Ann, changed hands several times, making its way to California, then Alaska. In Alaska, an alum of Port Hadlock's Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding suggested that the boat's owner donate it to the school to complete its restoration.

Felicity Ann was then restored in the traditional large craft class at NWSWB from the keel up over the course of three school years, Randall said.

The Community Boat Project received the boat last August and finished preparing the vessel for the sea, which included fitting it with rigging and crafting sails. The Lorber Foundation granted the project $30,000 out of the total cost of $40,000 with the stipulation it be used locally for educational purposes.

"Felicity Ann is just a new addition to this sort of living museum we've got going on in Port Townsend," said Chimenti. "There's at least a handful, five or six boats, that are over 100 years old."

Felicity Ann was re-launched on May 1 at Point Hudson Harbor. 

"While Ann Davison never had a direct connection to the Northwest, I feel that this boat has become part of our wooden boat culture," Randall said.

 

sailing vessel the Felicity Ann

 

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Source :  Kitsup Sun 

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