Scott Malone sails solo from Auckland, N.Z., to Friday Harbor in 70 days

Scott Malone, 41, sailed the SV Whisper, his family
Scott Malone, 41, sailed the SV Whisper, his family's Tartan 37 sailboat, from Auckland, N.Z., to Friday Harbor -- a voyage of 8,500 miles -- in 70 days. He sailed solo.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

It’s probably unfair to ask someone to sum up in three words or less what it’s like to sail solo from New Zealand to Friday Harbor.

But skipper Scott Malone, who single-handedly covered 8,500 miles of open ocean in just 70 days, played along.

“Damn long time,” said Malone, who set sail out of Auckland bound for San Juan Island on April 17.

Malone said the amount of attention and labor required to keep the boat speeding along and on course, rather than solitude or idleness, can wear one down.

“There’s plenty of time to think,” he said. “But it’s amazing how much work the boat is. I spent a lot of time adjusting sails and lines, and I tweaked stuff a lot.”

On Friday, Malone finished the final leg of what turned out to be a two-year family expedition in the South Seas as he guided the SV Whisper, the family’s Tartan 37 sailboat, into the Port of Friday Harbor. A small but enthusiastic group of family and friends, led by his father, Jay, of Friday Harbor, was there to greet him.

“I’m euphoric,” said Jay Malone, who sailed to Hawaii with his children when Scott was just 3.

The younger Malone wasn’t chasing records. In fact, sailing solo across the Pacific was more a practical decision than an ambition.

Still, word of the feat quickly spread through Friday Harbor Marina and several sailors made a point to seek him out.

“That’s amazing,” one said. “By himself? It’s unheard of.”

“It’s freakin’ outstanding,” said another.

Scott Malone and his wife, Mary, and their two sons, Timothy, 11, and Finn, 8 — known collectively as the “4malones” on their sailing blog, set sail out of their homeport of Seattle for an extended excursion in the South Pacific in early August, 2008, with stops in San Francisco and Puerto Vallarta along the way.

In New Zealand, however, a pressing medical concern forced three of the “4malones” to fly home, leaving Scott to sail the Whisper back to the U.S. alone. The journey would exceed his longest previous single-handed voyage by more than 6,000 miles.

According to Mary, her husband dropped some weight along the way.

“Cooking is difficult because you’re sideways most the time,” said Malone, who celebrated his 41st birthday just north of the equator by switching up the daily routine.

“I ate the black beans instead of the red ones.”

Back on dry land, Malone set his sights on a hot bath, a big bed and a healthy dose of family time. Still, you can bet that the 4malones will be back on the water soon.

Asked “Where to next?.” the skipper, noting a fondness for tropical weather and waters, didn’t miss a beat.

“Mexico,” Malone said.

Visit the 4malones blog at www.sailblogs/member/4malones.

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