Wife's embrace awaits exhausted sea kayaker

By Nikki Papatsoumas

Scott Donaldson is battling mental and physical exhaustion as he nears landfall on the Taranaki coast.
Scott Donaldson is battling mental and physical exhaustion as he nears landfall on the Taranaki coast.

After a gruelling three-month journey, transtasman kayaker Scott Donaldson faces a battle against the wind to reach New Zealand.

Mr Donaldson, 34, is expected to reach Taranaki within 48 hours, after departing from Coffs Harbour in Sydney on April 19, paddling a distance of more than 2000km.

If successful, he will be the first person to have kayaked solo across the Tasman Sea.

Helicopter pilot John Funnell, who has made two supply drops to Mr Donaldson, said supporters were hoping for him to make land tomorrow or Monday morning.

Last night he was 85 nautical miles from the Taranaki coastline, and battling offshore winds.

Concerns were raised yesterday after Mr Donaldson's spot tracker failed to send his position for more than 12 hours, but he had since been in touch and was making good progress, Mr Funnell said.

The kayaker was facing strong headwinds, making his southeasterly paddle difficult. More strong winds and rough weather were predicted for today.

Over the past few weeks he's been challenged by bad weather and a broken rudder, which was damaged in a storm three weeks ago.

He'd now abandoned attempts to fix the rudder after repairs caused his cabin to fill with water, soaking his equipment and sleeping bag.

Mr Donaldson's wife Sarah said the last three months had been tough, with communication scarce.

She last spoke to him on June 26, when he was hunkering down in his cabin after hitting bad weather.

"He said he was hungry all the time, he has obviously lost a lot of weight, he is getting really fatigued mentally and physically."

She said she was excited, but would not rest until he hit dry land.

"It's a very worrying time because you know fatigue is starting to set in." On arrival she would have one thing on her mind: "Give him a big hug."

- APNZ

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