Kayaker ready to talk to public

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
Scott Donaldson
FAIRFAX NZ
STORM TROOPER: Kayaker Scott Donaldson.

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They didn't get to give him a welcome ashore party but the Taranaki public will get a chance to meet Scott Donaldson tonight.

The trans-Tasman kayaker will host a question and answer session at the New Plymouth council chambers at 5.30pm to show his gratitude for the region's hospitality.

Donaldson told the Taranaki Daily News he had been overwhelmed by the support since abandoning his mission to become the first person to kayak the Tasman solo on Friday.

"The Taranaki hospitality has been abundant. People have been stopping me in the street and saying congrats," he said.

"The other day I was walking down the street and someone ran out of a cafe and gave me a piece of fudge."

Donaldson, who left Coffs Harbour in April, had hoped to land at Ngamotu Beach where a welcoming party had been organised by the New Plymouth District Council.

Mayor Andrew Judd said he hoped those who planned to greet the kayaker on the sand would now take a chair at the chambers to hear him speak.

"It will be good to give him support because we didn't get to have our party," Judd said.

"We were all there with him, willing him in. It will be interesting to hear his take on it."

Donaldson was in the South Island yesterday retrieving his kayak, which was about 25 kilometres north of the Farewell Spit.

It was located in a morning flyover and later salvaged and towed back to Takaka with the help of Golden Bay locals.

The kayak has been drifting south since Friday afternoon when, after 84 days at sea, Donaldson was winched aboard the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter.

The kayak rolled at least three times on Thursday night and Donaldson suffered chest and facial injuries in what he said was the "nastiest night" he'd had.

Donaldson had been hunkered down in his cabin for six nights unable to change his battery pack and was facing the possibility of going Friday night without communications.

That was a risk he was not willing to take and about 2pm on Friday he was plucked from the ocean just 74km from the coast.

Though disappointed in failing to finish, Donaldson told media on Friday he had left it all on out on the ocean.

"There is a certain satisfaction in knowing I left it all out there," he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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