Surfer Survives 27 Hours Lost at Sea, Floating on His Back

An incredible story.

A South African surfer on an Indian Ocean surfing trip fell overboard on a boat carrying his party without anyone noticing until breakfast the next morning.

Brett Archibald survived 27 hours floating on his back, treading water and swimming without anything to support himself upon in the middle of the ocean, off the coast of Padang, Indonesia. The area is known for spinning some of the most dangerous currents in the world, according to Surfing Life. Archibald said he saw land five times but could never get to it because the current kept pulling him away. His charter boat eventually went back to look for him, along with other charter boats and Indonesian authorities. Archibald, a father of two, was eventually picked up by the crew of the Sydney-owned ship Barrenjoey after more than 27 hours at sea.

Archibald believes he passed out on the boat after getting seasick and going up on deck “to take a wee and drink some water.” He hurled twice from the rough current. “I think I blacked out while I was wretching,” he told Surfing Life. He says he woke up in rough waters around 3:15AM with the “boat miles in front of him.” Dehydrated and sunburnt, he says he almost drowned at least eight times and was stung multiple times by jellyfish, had sharks swimming around him, and had to deal with curious, pecking fish and seagulls, the latter which left him with gashes on his nose.

“The human body is an amazing, amazing thing,” Archibald said. “I don’t think I could have gone much beyond today, by the time night came I might have been cactus.”

“My husband is the most unbelievable man,” Archibald’s wife Anita told Surfline. “He’s like MacGyver. He’d know exactly what to do.”