New Zealand adventurer Scott Donaldson has begun his attempt to be the first person to successfully Kayak from Australia to New Zealand solo.
Donaldson, 47, departed Coffs Harbour north of Sydney at 8am this morning Australian time to the cheers of supporters and a group of ocean swimmers who accompanied him for a short time out of the harbour entrance.
Donaldson, 47, is no stranger to this remarkable challenge, having attempted it in 2014 and came agonisingly close to completing the trip after 84 days at sea. After paddling half the Tasman with an unrepairable rudder and sitting in a once in 40-year storm whilst looking at Mount Taranaki 80km off the coast of New Zealand, the attempt was aborted.
Speaking on a Coffs Harbour beach this morning, Donaldson said he was just keen to get started.
“Feeling amped, chomping at the bit to get out there,” said Donaldson.
Months of preparation have gone into the attempt, and also waiting for the right weather window.
“Pulling all the gear together has been a bigger task than it sounds, so now its just about getting out of the gate.”
“We had to wait a while for the weather, but it’s come, so we’ll use it.”
Not placing any predictions on how long it will take, Donaldson is hoping it will be quicker than his last attempt.
“I’m not predicting. It’s the Tasman, that’s why it’s hard. 84 days last time so quicker than that.”
Donaldson is aiming to make landfall on the Taranaki Coast – a distance of 2200 kilometres although he will likely paddle 3000 kilometres.
“This time around it’s about that last 80 kilometres that didn’t get done last time, it’s about finishing the job off.”
With a charitable aspect to his mission, being an asthmatic, Donaldson has linked with the Asthma New Zealand and Australia to raise awareness of the condition.
“I want to raise awareness for Asthma Australia and Asthma New Zealand
I have it, my son has it, so we want to encourage all asthmatics to get out there and exercise and to do what is needed to be healthy.”
“I have had asthma since childhood – and now my own son has it as well.
I am living proof of what you can achieve. Actually, the sea air, without pollen, is pretty good. I will have no issues out there!”
Though Donaldson will be alone, communication is by satellite phone with his shore team, with text messages exchanged from weatherman McDavitt and daily check-ins with his team leader Nigel Escott at base.
Follow Scott Donaldson’s progress via the website http://tasmankayak.com/