Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson remains focused on the 80km that didn't get done last time as he attempts a third trans-Tasman solo kayak crossing.

Donaldson who with his wife Sarah, lived in Rotorua for 15 years where he was the local swim coach, came agonisingly close to completing a kayak journey from Australia to New Zealand in 2014 but failed at the last hurdle.

Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright
Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright

After 84 days at sea and within 80km of the Taranaki Coastline, injury forced Donaldson to abandon the quest and he was flown to land by rescue helicopter.

At the time, he said he was gutted and would not be trying again.

Advertisement

He had to pull out of his first attempt in 2013 after just two days at sea.

Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright
Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright

But four years down the track, the 47-year-old former triathlete, adventure racer and multi-sporter is back on the water and determined become the first person to successfully kayak the crossing.

Guiding him from the ground once again is his long-time friend, retired Rotorua policeman and armed offenders head, Nigel Escott.

Based from his Okareka home, Escott ran the "Double Ditch" operation, setting daily objectives, providing technical support and dishing out advice to Donaldson.

Donaldson and Escott were out bike riding when Donaldson initially pitched the one-way solo kayak idea, a project he had already named Double Ditch, and asked his friend to help.

Family and supporters farewell Scott Donaldson from Coffs Harbour as he attempts to cross the Tasman Sea solo. Photo/Rob Wright
Family and supporters farewell Scott Donaldson from Coffs Harbour as he attempts to cross the Tasman Sea solo. Photo/Rob Wright

According to the Double Ditch communications team, what Escott says goes, even if the kayaker does not agree.

Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales on his latest quest on May 2 and, by late last week, had traversed about 400km.

"On May 8, he paddled 55km in a 24-hour period which is very impressive," Escott said.

On Friday, and with bad weather approaching, Donaldson and Escott made the decision for Donaldson to make a brief stop at Lord Howe Island, 586km off the New South Wales Coast.

Family and supporters farewell Scott Donaldson from Coffs Harbour as he attempts to cross the Tasman Sea solo. Photo/Rob Wright
Family and supporters farewell Scott Donaldson from Coffs Harbour as he attempts to cross the Tasman Sea solo. Photo/Rob Wright

"He'd made such good progress, and with a bad weather front approaching the Lord Howe area on Saturday, it made sense to stop at Lord Howe and let it pass," said Escott.

"There is no point sitting out there in the bad weather and getting blown back to Australia. What every good mariner does if bad weather comes their way, they seek some shelter."

Donaldson's wife was to fly to Lord Howe Island to join her husband but their young son became ill with asthma.

Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright
Former Rotorua man Scott Donaldson set out from Coffs Harbour on his latest quest on May 2. Photo/Rob Wright

The charitable aspect to the Double Ditch mission, is a link with Asthma New Zealand to raise awareness of the condition, which Donaldson has lived with since childhood.

Mrs Donaldson said her husband had been put up at Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island by the same people who looked after him during his first attempt.

"He has no spare clothes so is apparently dressed in a pair of the lodge overalls," Mrs Donaldson said. "He's checked over the boat and is now waiting on word from weatherman Bob McDavitt regarding the next weather window."

As soon as the weather front passes, Donaldson will be on his way again.

Donaldson aims to make landfall on the Taranaki Coast – a distance of 2200km although he will likely paddle 3000km.

Prior to embarking on May 2, Donaldson said this time around was about that last 80km that didn't get done last time.

"It's about finishing the job off. There is still a lot of water to cover before we get to that point, but it's about the challenge. No one has done it solo by kayak before."