PORT HADLOCK — The Community Boat Project in Port Hadlock is taking over the restoration of the historic Felicity Ann, a vessel made famous by Ann Davison, the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic in 1953.
The boat was donated to the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in 2003 and dozens of students and faculty worked to restore the 23-foot sloop.
On Wednesday, the boat was handed off to the Community Boat Project, which will finish the restoration and the Felicity Ann will be added to the Community Boat Project’s fleet, used for maritime education programs.
“Felicity Ann is a remarkable boat that’s been an inspiration to multiple generations,” said Betsy Davis, the executive director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock.
“She’s been a learning platform for many students at the boat school and will continue to be a learning platform for students on the water.”
The Community Boat Project will build out the interior of the Felicity Ann. The build will be dictated by the kinds of programs the Felicity Ann will host.
The Community Boat Project will reach out to the community over the next few months to gauge what kind of programs the public would like to see.
“This is the beginning of the next chapter for Felicity Ann,” said Shelly Randall, a lifelong sailor and former crew member on the schooner Adventuress.
Randall joined the Community Boat project to coordinate events and help organize the future programs on Felicity Ann.
She is working on updating the story on the website.
“It’s amazing the people who come out of the woodwork for projects like this,” Randall said. “We actually get a lot of support internationally.”
In 1953, at age 39, Ann Davison sailed the Felicity Ann from England to the United States, stopping along the western Europe and North African coasts before crossing to the Caribbean, and became the first women to sail the Atlantic solo.
Davison died in 1992 at the age of 78.
The Felicity Ann eventually made its way to the West Coast and ended up in Alaska. That Alaskan owner donated the Felicity Ann to the School of Wooden Boat Building after being impressed with the school’s work on a boat it owned.
Students and faculty at the school have restored the Felicity Ann by working from the boat’s original plans, designed in 1939 by the Mashford Brothers shipyard in England.
The Felicity Ann will make her public debut at the Wooden Boat Festival, scheduled for Sept. 8-10, and next summer the Felicity Ann will tour the Puget Sound with an all female crew to tell the story of Ann Davison.
The Felicity Ann will then join the Community Boat Project fleet and while the programming isn’t set, the Felicity Ann’s new captain said she wants the boat to serve as an inspiration and a place of learning to other aspiring female mariners.
“That’s the vibe I want to spread,” said Nahja Chimenti, captain of the Felicity Ann.
“You can do or be whatever you damn well please. The average merchant marine is a man over 40. We need to change those demographics. I’m here to teach skills and blur the gender boundaries as much as possible.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].