DroneMate documents Puklowski’s southern circumnavigation
A Nelson man’s motorboat mission to help a mate is underway, propelled by some high-flying help from the community.
The purpose of the trip was to raise money for David Puklowski ‘s friend Russell Blowers, who suffers from an inherited genetic condition, Linked Hypophosphatemic Rickets.
On May 11, Blowers will undergo the first of three operations to correct nerve damage to his spine caused by the disease.
Puklowski is now well into his solo circumnavigation of the South Island in a 3.8 metre rigid hull inflatable boat, which he hoped would take 19 days.
If successful, it would be the smallest powered craft to achieve the feat.
After leaving Nelson in the early hours of Saturday, Puklowski has made good progress down the West Coast to reach Jackson’s Bay, near Haast, by Tuesday.
Each leg consisted of between 200-300 kilometres, stopping each night in a planned area to refuel and sleep.
Five rest days have been allocated with in the schedule to allow for mechanical or physical fatigue that comes with spending up to 12-hours in the water.
In preparation for the journey, Puklowski had taken marine radio and bar crossing courses while also giving a presentation to Nelson Coastguard.
Those lessons have already proved valuable in situations like crossing the Greymouth Bar on Monday.
A support crew will follow him by vehicle, to ensure his fuel and safety needs are being looked after.
As well as a large contingent of sponsors and community support, local company DroneMate have provided one of their unmanned aerial vehicles for Puklowski to document the trip from the air.
Footage captured can then be sent back to DroneMate and the ground crew.
DroneMate’s Jonathan Lopardo had been involved with the planning since its inception, helping to film and edit a number of promotional videos and media clips ahead of the circumnavigation.
“Dave originally came to us looking for a drone,” Lopardo said.
“We were able to give him a heavily-reduced price drone and we said we’d be happy to teach you how to use it and manage your media.”
“He’s got a very sophisticated, very small drone that basically he can just put in the air and put a dot on his boat and the drone will follow him.”
Lopardo anticipated that another video can be put together in the next week once enough footage was captured.
He was grateful to have shared in the experience, even if his involvement was on dry land.
“For all the sponsors, meeting Russell was the hook and Dave is such a great guy – we just want people to know that, man, he’s worked so hard on this.”
“At the end of the day, we all just want Russell to get the money he needs so we’re very passionate about being involved with this.”
As well as satisfying his own quest for adventure, Puklowski also hoped to start a nationwide ‘Challenge for a Mate’ movement, encouraging New Zealanders to undertake similar challenges for mates in need.
Lopardo hoped anyone close to the coastline would get out to see the boat as it passed, and hopefully be compelled to donate to the cause.