Ann Davison

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Ann Davison (1914–1992) was, at the age of 39, the first woman to single-handedly sail the Atlantic Ocean. She departed Plymouth, England in her 23 foot boat Felicity Ann on May 18, 1952. She landed in Brittany, Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands, before setting sail across the Atlantic on 20 November 1952, aiming to make land-fall in Antigua. In the event storms pushed her south and having been driven past Barbados she eventually touched land in Dominica on January 23, 1953. After an extended stopover in the Caribbean she sailed north to Florida and finally to New York by way of the Intercoastal Waterway.

Her autobiographical account was published as My Ship is so Small. The Felicity Ann, built by Mashford Bros of Creymll (Cornwall) in 1939, has recently (2008–2009) been in private possession in Haines, Alaska undergoing initial restoration, but has now been donated to the Northwest School of Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock (WA) for further restoration. The original design for Felicity Ann and three other identical hulls are from 1936. Design was by Mr. Sid Mashford. Of the three sister yachts built at Mashfords, three remain, of which one (Selene) is actively sailed.

Ann Davison was the author of several other autobiographical works. Her first two books were written to pay off debts incurred with her husband in re-furbishing a 70 foot ketch, "Reliance". which they bought at the end of the Second World War with the aim of crossing the Atlantic and starting a new life.[1]

In her first book, Last Voyage, she describes her life in the early 1930s as an aviator, delivering mail around the UK, and her marriage to Frank Davison, another aviator, with whom she bought and ran a small commercial airfield at Hooton on the Wirral (now a car factory) which had to be closed at the start of the Second World War. But the main part of the book, and the title, is about their ill-fated purchase of "Reliance". The boat, which was alongside at Fleetwood on the Lancashire coast, required more refurbishment than anticipated and Frank was unwilling to compromise on standards. Debts grew, and with a writ of repossession about to be nailed to the mast, Ann and Frank hurriedly set sail for the West Indies, with the boat unfinished, and into the teeth of a gale. After intense hardship, first blown down the Irish Sea then to the East along the English Channel, they were wrecked on the east side of Portland Bill on 4 June 1949, where Frank drowned but Ann managed to scramble ashore.

Her second book, Home was an Island, describes their life after the sale of their airfield and before the purchase of Reliance, during which time they bought and farmed the small islands of Inchmurrin and then Inchfad on Loch Lomond.

My Ship is so Small is the account of the Felicity Ann crossing the Atlantic by way of Brittany, Morocco and the Cannaries. After an extended stop-over in the Caribbean, Ann sailed Felicity Ann north up the Intercoastal Highway to New York.

In the Wake of the Gemini is an account of a trip by small cabin cruiser, with twin outboard engines, from Miami to the Hudson to the Great Lakes, then down to Florida again by way of the Mississippi.

Florida Junket describes a holiday circumnavigating part of Florida in an outboard-driven speedboat with her second husband Bert. In this adventure they fish and camp and explore remote islands and sand banks.

It is thought that Ann grew up and had family in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Ann Davison did not have any children of her own but did have a sister in the UK and married to a naval officer and who later farmed in Dorset. Her sister occasionally made visits to Florida and participated in some of Ann's adventures. Ann had nieces and nephews back in the UK.

According to the Museum of Yachting, Newport, Rhode Island, Ann and Frank worked as civilian flight instructors during World War II. In her autobiographical book Last Voyage, however, Davison did not mention any such occupation.


  1. ^ My Ship is So Small p. 14, p. 24


  • Davison, Ann. (1952). Last Voyage: An Autobiographical Account of All That Led Up to an Illicit Voyage and the Outcome Thereof. London, Peter Davies.
  • Davison, Ann. (1952). Home was an Island. London, Peter Davies.
  • Davison, Ann. (1956). My Ship is so Small. London, Peter Davies.
  • Davison, Ann. (1962). By Gemini or Marshmallows in the Salad. London, Peter Davies.
  • Davison, Ann. (1964). Florida Junket. London, Peter Davies.

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