TransTasman kayaker Scott Donaldson's family is on standby in
the hope he will reach New Plymouth late tomorrow as he
completes his arduous three-month solo journey.
The New Plymouth community is preparing to celebrate with a
beachfront welcome, but are waiting for confirmation before
setting up a marquee.
The kayaker had hoped to make landfall tonight but strong
winds off the Taranaki coastline have delayed his arrival,
and MetService say winds are not expected to let up any time
Mr Donaldson, 34, departed from Coffs Harbour in Sydney on
April 19, intending to paddle more than 2000km. If
successful, he will be the first person to kayak solo across
the Tasman Sea.
Helicopter pilot John Funnell, who has made three supply
drops to Mr Donaldson, said it was now looking likely he
would arrive tomorrow night or Tuesday morning at the
Mr Funnell made a supply drop to Mr Donaldson today, taking
him water, food, a newspaper, portable radio, and batteries
for his radios and bilge pump.
"Conditions were good out there and he was about 40
[nautical] miles from New Plymouth airport," Mr Funnell said.
"He's still about 30 hours away ... we couldn't talk to him
because he's lost all his battery power."
However he said Mr Donaldson appeared in good spirits.
MetService forecaster Philippa Murdoch said 25 knot
south-easterly winds were expected off the Taranaki coast
tonight, and the area was experiencing three-metre swells.
Winds would change to north-easterly tomorrow and strengthen
to 35 knots on Tuesday, she said.
Mr Donaldson's wife Sarah, in New Plymouth, was not fazed by
the latest delay and said different arrival times were "being
bandied around all over the show".
"I'd obviously like him in sooner rather than later."
She would assess how much rest and recuperation he needed
after he arrived, she said.
"I mean he's not going to be able to walk properly for a
A batch of homemade bacon and egg pie was planned for the
homecoming hero -- but only if he was able to eat properly,
Ms Donaldson was looking forward to the long overdue catch
up, and said the couple's four-year-old son, Zac, had been
missing his father.
"It's been very difficult on all levels."
Celebratory plans for his arrival are being handled by
Venture Taranaki, who were waiting for the word to set up a
huge marquee with entertainment and refreshments next to the
New Plymouth Yacht Club at the southern end of Ngamotu Beach.
Spokesman Antony Rhodes said it would be a big celebration.
"We're trying to rally the community to get out and welcome
Customs staff would be on hand to welcome Mr Donaldson and
process his immigration details, and medical staff would also
be present for any health concerns, he said.
- Lydia Anderson of APNZ