POULSBO — Felicity Ann, the boat which carried Ann Davison, the first woman to complete a single-handed crossing of the Atlantic Ocean — made a visit to the Port of Poulsbo on June 19, part of the boat’s “victory lap” following an extensive restoration process.
Today, the vessel that carried Davison sails again, relaunched May 1 following restoration at the hands of the volunteers and students of the Community Boat Project, a partnership between the Port Townsend School District, Chimacum School District, Sunfield Waldorf School, Jefferson County 4-H, North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center and the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. The Community Boat Project focuses on offering credits to students for maritime-based education programs.
Felicity Ann’s captain, Nahja Chimenti, said that following Davison’s crossing, Felicity Ann fell into obscurity. Eventually, the boat was discovered in Haines, Alaska, and later conveyed to the Community Boat Project. The restoration costs needed to get Felicity Ann back into fighting shape seemed a daunting sum, that is until one financier offered a substantial contribution.
“A woman funder from the Port Townsend area heard about the project and said, ‘Well, I will put up the majority of the funds for this restoration, providing you do one thing when the boat is finished. I don’t want it to be just a museum piece that sits at the dock, or sits on the hard somewhere for people to look at. I want it to be used,’” Chimenti said. “We want the use of the boat to resound [Ann Davison’s] story to empower people, both women and otherwise and to just share that empowerment and that sense of courage.”
In 1953, Davison became the first woman to complete a transatlantic crossing alone. Prior to her crossing, Davison and her husband, Frank, attempted to elude creditors in their 70-foot Ketch, Reliance. Their escape attempt was met with tragedy after Reliance encountered a storm for which neither the vessel nor her crew were prepared. The sailors’ ill-preparedness claimed both Reliance and the life of Davison’s husband. Three years later, Davison returned to the sea, this time sailing alone, determined to become the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo.
Sixty five days after her departure from the Canary Islands, Davison arrived in Dominica, an island republic in the Caribbean, having completed her crossing and sealing her place in history.
Felicity Ann will continue her victory lap with a stop in Bainbridge Island at the Eagle Harbor City Dock on June 30, from 6-7 p.m. The boat’s stay at the dock will culminate in a 7 p.m. presentation at the Waterfront Park Community Center. Felicity Ann will also be at the dock during the Boater’s Fair, July 1, with open hours from 10 a.m.-noon and 3-7 p.m.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org