Ann Davison’s 23ft Atlantic crossing boat Felicity Ann sails again

I was chuffed to read this story on the Classic Sailor website. I greatly enjoyed Ann Davison’s book My Ship is so Small about crossing the Atlantic solo in a 23ft boat some years ago, and it still sits on a shelf above my computer.

Dating as it does from the mid 1950s, it’s the sort of thing you might still find in the sailing section of a good second-hand bookstore.

Felicity Ann sails again

Ann Davison’s 23ft Atlantic crossing yacht is being restored

Ann Davison’s little double-ended sailing yacht Felicity Ann is being restored at Port Hadlock, Washington.

It’s great news, and some of the webloggers have rightly picked up the story, including Bill Serjeant (he also wrote an earlier post), and this link (which doesn’t seem to be working right now).

Davison was quite a character: a woman who became a pilot in the 1930s at a time when few women flew, together with her husband she attempted to sail to the USA with a half-fitted out and overly-large boat, was shipwrecked off Portland Bill and lost her first husband to the sea, wrote a successful book about the affair (which I’ve read), and then made a second trip in the tiny four-tonner Felicity Ann. That trip, too, became a book that went on to sell well, (and which I mean to read some day).

You might say that by this point she had become a professional adventurer; she went on to write several books about further adventures, and one about her earlier life with her first husband.

The Wikipedia has some words about Davison here and The Smithsonian has a section from her 1952 boat about the Felicity Ann trip online. There’s also an interesting critique here about her voyaging, in which you can almost hear the writer’s brain separating in two parts as he struggles with the contradictions of Davison the gutsy optimist, indomitable spirit and highly trained aviator, and Davison the not-terribly competent sailor. (I’d argue that contradictions are normal for humans, but there it is.)

Anyway, let’s wish great good luck to the idealistic team restoring Ann Davison’s lovely little boat originally made by Mashford Brothers of Creymll in Cornwall, and now close to Washington. Here and here are two links describing their project.