Periodically, the Boat School has the opportunity to restore historically significant boats. These restorations are an important and unique chance for students to hone their skills and preserve maritime heritage. Learn more about our current historic projects below. To support the restoration of a special project:
In 1952 Ann Davison became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo in her small but mighty 23 foot wood sloop, FELICITY ANN.
Ann departed Plymouth, England on May 18th, 1952, hopping down the European and African Coast until reaching Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. It was here on November 20th,1952 that Ann began her journey. Orignally shooting for Antigua, storms pushed FELICITY ANN south, past Barbados, resulting in Davison landing in Dominica on January 23, 1953. After time to recover in the Caribbean, she sailed north through the Carribbean to Floridaand then and on to New York via the Intercoastal Waterway, arriving on November 23rd, 1953.
FELICITY ANN was designed by Sid Mashford in 1936 and construction began on the sloop in 1939 under the name Peter Piper by the Mashford Brothers Ltd. of the Cremyll Shipyard in Cornwall, England. Put on hold during WWII, she was rediscovered and finished by a Norwegian sailor looking to take her home in 1949. However, things fell through and Ann purchased the wooden sloop. Three other identical hulls were built at the same time, and all remain, though only SELENE is still actively sailed.
Five years after arriving in New York, FELICITY ANN was sold and shipped to California. She went through many owners and was eventually moved to Seward, Alaska, and onto Moose Pass, AK where she sat abandoned for 20 years.
The small sloop was discovered by an individual who knew the boat’s history and she was partially restored in Haines, Alaska. During the restoration, the owner became acquainted with a former student of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) and after consulting with him, realized he could not fully complete the project. This led to FELICITY ANN being donated to the Boat School.
Through “The Felicity Ann Project”, the Boat School and the Community Boat Project are partnering to restore and relaunch the historic vessel. Upon completion, the FELICITY ANN will be used in the Community Boat Project’s on-the-water training programs empowering women and the community. This restoration hopes to use the inspiration of Ann Davison’s accomplishment to encourage women and others to consider a career in the marine trades.
Many American engineers and naval architects were sent to Great Britain in World War II to help carry out the Allies planned invasion of the west coast of Europe.
Thomas Gillmer, a naval architect, was one of these people.
While in England, Gillmer was looking over every boat afloat. A certain type he kept returning to was the Falmouth Quay Punt. Most had been built as early as the 1880s but had been well maintained. Historically, the Falmouth Punt was designed to take all types of weather and was proven to be seaworthy, fast, and picture-perfect in appearance. Ranging from 20 feet to 30 feet, the punts were used as water taxis off the Port of Falmouth.
Gillmer sketched the Punts and, in 1946, decided to draft building plans of his own. Coincidentally, he decided not to advertise his plans since he thought the public wouldn’t be interested in an 1880s-style boat.
Eventually, Gillmer sent the plans to Ivor Bentzen, an old boatbuilding friend from Arendal, Norway. Before the war, Bentzen was building boats in England and loved the Falmouth Punts as much as Gillmer did. He responded to Gillmer, accepting the job of building the “new” design. So, in 1954 Bentzen finished the BLUE MOON. (No one seems to know how the name “Blue Moon” came about) and Gillmer brought her home to the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1955, with no fanfare, Gillmer began sailing her on the Bay. Before long, many maritime periodicals had stories about BLUE MOON and her design. Everyone who saw her sailing was amazed by her beauty, seaworthiness, and speed.
Fans of the vessel started sending letters to Gillmer requesting the plans. BLUE MOON had inspired more followers than Gillmer expected. Eventually, BLUE MOON clones were sailing on the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, in the Caribbean, and on the Great Lakes.
The first and original BLUE MOON is the one built in Norway and the one donated to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to restore.