Weather waylays trans-Tasman kayaker

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 08:29 08/07/2014
Scott Donaldson
ANDY JACKSON/ Fairfax NZ

WELCOMING PARTY: All set to greet solo kayaker Scott Donaldson who is expected to land in Taranaki next week sometime. From left, Brendan Hartigan, Peter Bennett, Bronnie Van Lith, Peter Van Lith, Herb Spannagl, Sue Spannagl and Martin Rook.

Scott Donaldson
APPROXIMATE COURSE: Scott Donaldson's route from Australia to New Zealand.
Scott Donaldson
GIVEN UP: Scott Donaldson
Scott Donaldson
WIND DILEMMA: The wind is pushing Scott Donaldson away from his intended place of arrival.
Scott Donaldson
SECOND ATTEMPT: Scott Donaldson at sea.

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Kayaker Scott Donaldson's homecoming has been postponed yet again as he is caught up in severe weather off the North Island's west coast.

In the latest drama to stall the trans-Tasman expedition, strong northeasterly winds have pushed the paddler 38 nautical miles westward off the New Plymouth coast.

It had been hoped that Donaldson would be able to make land yesterday, but now he has been forced to anchor and ride out the weather.

"He's got no option but to hunker down in his cabin," Taupo rescue pilot John Funnell said.

"The vessel he's in is watertight. It would be like being in a barrel, mind you - it would be pretty unpleasant.

"But he's had 80-odd days of similar conditions."

A launch had been accompanying Donaldson but he asked it to return to shore because of the rough conditions and the risk of collision.

Funnell said it was now a waiting game, with Donaldson now not expected to be able to reach Port Taranaki until early next week.

Donaldson's wife Sarah said this morning it was "anxious times" but this was just another barrier to overcome.

Donaldson had been in contact with her via text last night, she said.

"He was in really good spirits, physically and mentally," she said.

The 43-year-old was dropped extra supplies over the weekend, including peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

It is his second attempt at the crossing and if successful he will become the first person to kayak the Tasman solo.

The voyage so far has been plagued by poor weather and mechanical difficulties.

Donaldson is undertaking the challenge to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity for the New Zealand Asthma Foundation. Both he and his 4-year-old son Zac suffer from the condition.

He has been at sea since leaving Coffs Harbour in New South Wales on April 19.

In 2007, Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley, 39, attempted the same crossing but drowned about 65 kilometres off the coast of Milford Sound.

His kayak was found the day after he made a distress call but his body was never recovered.

The coroner ruled McAuley likely died from drowning and the effects of hypothermia.

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