Paddler waiting for storm to ease

Marathon kayaker anticipating homecoming

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014
Scott Donaldson
FAIRFAX NZ
STORM TROOPER: Kayaker Scott Donaldson is waiting out strong offshore winds and heavy swells in the hope of landing at Ngamotu Beach.

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Scott Donaldson is prepared to extend his personal water torture, just for the people of Taranaki.

There are fears that the marathon kayaker will be blown south with a snow capped Mt Taranaki in his sights as he attempts to become the first person to paddle his canoe across the Tasman solo.

But wife Sarah says he'll tread water if he can to make sure he attends his Port Taranaki homecoming.

"He is still keen to come in to New Plymouth. He is trying to make the effort because he knows how much everyone has put into organising the party for him."

Donaldson, who has been at sea for 81 days, is being given advice about when to paddle and when to hunker down by weatherman Bob McDavitt.

As of Monday, Donaldson was paused 70km west of Port Taranaki as offshore winds made it impossible to paddle.

He was visited by a boatload of supporters on Monday night but his wife was not one of those aboard.

"I get seasick," she said.

Sarah said her husband was in high spirits after seeing familiar faces and hearing their encouraging words.

"He's fine, they were joking and having a good banter," Sarah told the Taranaki Daily New yesterday.

It's feared that Donaldson could be pushed as far south as Abel Tasman National Park, at the tip of the South Island.

Heavy seas and gale force winds were set to kick in during the next few days, MetService said.

Gusty easterlies were predicted today before turning northeast on Thursday and then northerly on Friday.

Saturday was looking the best, with northwest winds predicted, but Donaldson would be contending with heavy swell for most of the week.

Donaldson has been hammered by several storms in the last month, but Sarah said her husband could handle it.

"He's done this before and been in this type of weather."

When Donaldson does arrive it's hoped that thousands will be on the beach to welcome him ashore.

When the Australian pair of Justin Jones and James Castrission crossed the Tasman in 2009, there were more than 10,000 who turned out and Mayor Andrew Judd said he expected the same.

The New Plymouth District Council has organised a marquee and music and a group of kayakers are geared up to guide Donaldson home when the call goes out.

"We're asking everyone to come down and support him, to celebrate what he has done and to celebrate the human spirit." Judd said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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