Ann Davison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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 18 May 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 23 January 1953. After an extended stopover in the Caribbean she sailed north to Florida and finally to New York by way of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Felicity Ann[edit]

The Felicity Ann, built by Mashford Bros of Cremyll (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, Washington for further restoration. The original design for the Felicity Ann and three other identical hulls are from 1936. The Felicity Ann has been almost fully restored, and on 6 August 2017 the title was transferred to the Community Boat Project in Port Hadlock, WA by the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding where students and volunteers did most of the planking restoration. The boat will be finished by volunteers and will be sailed around the Puget Sound area next year before being used for sailing instruction.


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 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 worked at a small commercial airfield at Hooton, Wirral Peninsula, which had to be closed at the start of World War II. But the main part of the book, and the title, is about their ill-fated purchase of Reliance.[citation needed]

The boat, which was alongside at Fleetwood, Lancashire, 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 he drowned. Ann Davison managed to scramble ashore.[2]

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.

Her autobiographical account was published as My Ship is so Small.


In 2017 a blue plaque recognising Davison was unveiled at Mere Brook House (where she lived from 1939) which is near Thornton Hough, Wirral.[3]


  1. ^ My Ship is So Small, pp. 14, 24
  2. ^ "Ann Davison – the first woman to sail the Atlantic single-handed". Merseyside Maritime Museum. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Mayor unveils Blue Plaque for Ann Davison – the first woman to sail the Atlantic single handed".


  • 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.