A ship which was tasked to shadow transtasman kayaker Scott
Donaldson to shore has returned to port because of
treacherous weather conditions.
The MV Reef Spirit set sail from New Plymouth yesterday with
the intention of remaining with him to the finish. But
weather conditions have become so bad, it was deemed too
dangerous for the vessel to stay.
"It's come back in because it's quite rough out there, and
the consensus was, from Scott and everyone involved, that
he's better out there on his own," said Taupo rescue pilot
"His kayak is made for the conditions, and the forecast is so
bad that everyone agreed it probably wasn't wise to leave
that boat there in these conditions, because there's a risk
of collision, particularly at night."
Mr Donaldson would "ride out the storm in his kayak", he
"He has crossed the Tasman - as he pointed out - without any
Strong winds off the coast of Taranaki have already pushed Mr
Donaldson back from shore.
The charity paddler was within viewing distance of Mt
Taranaki, but poor weather has halted his attempts to make it
to land, three months after he set off on his journey.
He has been blown almost 7 nautical miles backwards in 24
hours because of strong winds, placing him around 38 nautical
miles west of New Plymouth.
Forecasters have predicted gale force winds for the area as
the day goes on, meaning Mr Donaldson is likely to drift at a
similar rate away from shore. A drogue has been released from
the kayak in an attempt to reduce the effects of the strong
Mr Donaldson has been unable to paddle since Sunday evening,
when he was expected to arrive on shore, due to poor weather.
"With the rate of drift he's got, he's probably going to have
a good two days of paddling to get back in to Port Taranaki,"
Mr Funnell said.
"If in fact that's where he actually goes, it may well be
that he comes ashore further south, depending on how far
south [he's blown]."
Mr Donaldson was still north of the cape of Taranaki, he
said, but three days of winds could still push him further
The kayaker is not expected to reach Port Taranaki until
Friday at the earliest, but it could be well into the weekend
before he reaches land.
"It is fair to say Scott has had more than his share of
challenges over the last 79 days at sea."
He left Coffs Harbour in New South Wales on April 19, hoping
to be the first person to kayak solo across the Tasman.
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.
His wife Sarah and the couple's 4-year-old son Zac are in New
Plymouth planning a batch of homemade bacon and egg pie for
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ