Heroic nut completes Tasman kayak crossing

Kayaking in the open ocean is not something I would contemplate doing. Trying to kayak across the Tasman Sea seems nuts.

But Scott Donaldson has done it. He left Coff’s Harbour in northern NSW on 2 May 2018. Last night:

Kayaker Scott Donaldson has crossed the Tasman and reached New Plymouth after leaving Coffs Harbour in New South Wales two months ago.

It’s the first solo crossing of the Tasman in a kayak.

He encountered heavy seas and winds, and even sharks along the way.

Heroic, but I think also nuts to attempt something like this.

Mr Donaldson attempted the journey once before in 2014, but had to abandon the attempt after nearly three months and call for rescue while just 80km from New Zealand’s shore.

The kayak from his first attempt washed up on a New Plymouth beach more than a month after his rescue.

Before he started: ‘It’s more fear than respect’ – Kiwi kayaker Scott Donaldson launching new attempt to cross Tasman Sea

Last night: Watch: The moment Kiwi kayaker Scott Donaldson is carried onto beach after completing solo trans-Tasman voyage


There are shorter routes further south but the conditions are generally worse.

Others have tried and failed. See Sad end for true Aussie battler

Australian kayaker and adventurer Andrew McAuley would have been the first solo kayaker to paddle across the Tasman Sea had he reached his destination that day.

What made his attempt all the more difficult was the path he took — all below the 40th parallel, an area known for tumultuous and punishing weather conditions.

But instead, 30 nautical miles, or 54km off the coast, Andrew vanished after sending the New Zealand Coastguard a garbled message revealing his kayak was sinking and he needed rescue.

It was a small boat for Donaldson to be on the open ocean for months on/in.

Kayaker Scott Donaldson sets off from Coffs Harbour in Sydney.

Footage of Tasman Sea conditions taken from a ship (“This wasn’t the worst of it, this is just what I was able to catch on camera”):

Not my thing even on a large vessel.

Plastic pollution a huge problem, and growing

There is a sudden escalation in concern over plastic pollution. This is overdue, because a lot of damage has already been done. As a big part of the problem is floating around out oceans it is not an easy problem to resolve.

Stuff:  Urgent calls for plastics ban, as recycling and composting plants run out of space

Kiwis are conscientiously sending their shopping bags off to be recycled or composted, unaware most are being thrown in landfills.

The crisis in composting and plastic recycling capacity has prompted calls for councils and the Government to step up and do their bit.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has promised a decision on banning plastic bags in the coming month. Industry insiders predicted any ban would be phased in over several years.

This weekend Dr Trisia Farrelly, co-director of Massey University’s Political Ecology Research Centre, called for the government to take the lead and ban harmful plastics. “We have got ourselves into this situation we shouldn’t have got into. There needs to be an international legally binding directive. We have reached a plastics crisis,” she said.

I think that there is no doubt that far too much plastic is used and discarded.

Plastics have been piling up around New Zealand ever since China slapped restrictions on imports of waste products, at the start of the year. The sight of massive stacks has caused alarm around New Zealand: a Huntly resident compared the piles at his local waste station to “the slums of Mumbai”. On the West Coast, Smart Environmental operations supervisor Allan Corbett told the Westport News that “nobody has the answer” to piles building up at sites like the town’s transfer station.

We use far too much plastic and don’t know how to dispose of it safely.

RNZ: Plastic waste major threat to NZ seabirds

Forest and Bird is demanding the government end the production of single-use plastic – pointing to research showing the Tasman Sea is the riskiest place in the world for seabirds for ingesting pieces of plastic.

On current trends it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic in the oceans than fish.

An international research paper shows a dangerous overlap between this tidal wave of plastic and the abundance of seabirds in the Tasman Sea which is populated by a staggering one third of the world’s seabird species.

Forest and Bird seabird advocate Karen Baird said even a small amount of plastic in the Tasman had been found to have a disproportionate impact compared to other parts of the world where there was nowhere near the same number of birds.

“There are increasing problems with seabirds such as the flesh-footed shearwater in Australia that breeds on Lord Howe Island.

“We know that a third of the turtles found in New Zealand waters have plastics inside them. They’re a bit like seabirds, they have different mechanisms for selecting plastics in that they probably think that it looks like their food.”

This is a pollution problem that we can’t pass off as something the rest of the world has, but we can’t do much about and it won’t affect us much.

We all should drastically rethink our use of plastic. It can be very useful, but far too much of it is used.

Discussion on it at Reddit: Urgent calls for plastics ban, as recycling and composting plants run out of space