A flotilla of vessels will welcome home a Tauranga man as he sails the final stretch of a massive journey to become the first paraplegic to sail solo across the Pacific Ocean.

Jonathan Martins faced his fair share of challenges during the past three years but will soon complete the record-making journey - nearly a year in the making.

The past decade of his life had revolved around sailing, living in his yacht Ramana berthed at the Tauranga marina.

When a serious skydiving accident on New Year's Day 2012 left him a paraplegic, Mr Martins' love for the sea never faltered.


"But from the very first minutes, I had vowed to myself that if I lived, and no matter what physical condition I'd be in, that I was to return to my yacht and still sail the seas," he said.

He left Tauranga with three friends for Sint Maarten in the Caribbean last summer where he used his savings to invest in an 11-metre yacht.

The group planned to fix up the yacht before filming a documentary about their simple life while sailing it home to Tauranga, but unforeseen challenges and repairs caused Mr Martins' savings to dwindle.

He flew two of his crewmen home and continued to Panama with only one other.

Again circumstances changed and the third crewman had to return to New Zealand.

"It was sad to see ... to me that was the 'rubber stamp on my passport' that I had completely failed in achieving my dream. But it was also incredible that all the struggles I had been going through since the beginning had led me to that very situation, as if someone out there had already pre-planned all this for me," he said.

On June 26, he set sail from Balboa Yacht Club in Panama on the long journey to New Zealand alone.

"It's been a hard task for someone with my disability, but despite the physical challenges I never felt alone this whole time at sea and the support and cheerful emails from all my friends after my updates, were more then enough to keep carrying on with a smile," he said.

"And I certainly have no doubts after all this time alone at sea, that someone up there has been looking after me through this whole journey."

Fellow boatie and friend Kat Gawlik hoped to organise a group of local boats from Tauranga to sail out and welcome Mr Martins home at the entrance to the Tauranga Harbour.

Mr Martins was excited about returning to Tauranga. "There is really no place on earth like New Zealand."

How to spot the record-making paraplegic sailor
Jonathan Martins is expected to arrive with his yacht Pelican at Mayor Island off the Bay of Plenty coast tonight before making his way into Tauranga tomorrow afternoon or Friday depending on the wind and weather.