Surfer Brett Archibald is safe. He was found late Wednesday night, having survived more than a day alone adrift in the Indian Ocean, with nothing to cling to but hope of rescue.
Two days earlier, he and a group of friends had left Sumatra's Padang Port for the Mentawais—a chain of islands that are home to some famed surfing waves—aboard the Naga Laut, a surf charter boat, around 6pm. They ate dinner and retired to their cabins while, outside, the storm-tossed sea rocked and rolled the boat violently.
In the morning, around 8am, the 50-year-old South African native was conspicuously absent when the group gathered in the galley for breakfast. The last passenger aboard to see him, JM Tostee, recalled events the previous night. “Brett was very seasick last night during the storm,” said Tostee. “We think he must have fallen overboard when getting sick on deck whilst everyone was sleeping.”
The group's two-week holiday of surf, sun and fishing had suddenly turned into a nightmare, and the Naga Laut wheeled around to retrace its route and search for Archibald. A band of private surf charter boats in the area, along with local Indonesian authorities, quickly fanned across the Mentawai Strait to help find him.
After a grueling 27 hours of treading water (he says he nearly drowned eight separate times), sustaining multiple jellyfish stings and battle seagulls that seemed to swoop for his eyes, Archibald was found alive 12 miles off the east coast of Sipora Island by the surf charter Barrenjoey.
Archibald’s wife, Anita, who was agonizing over the ordeal back in South Africa, was notified of his safety, and spoke with him over the phone a few hours later. According to Craig Lambinon of South Africa's National Sea Rescue Institute, “Brett told (Anita) he wants to complete his surfing trip before returning home, and that he didn’t fly all that way [just] to tread water for 27 hours." Epic.