South African surfer survives shark-infested waters for 28 hours
While the world hones in on happenings in Boston – attuning its collective ear to the city’s police radio-scanner, there is another compelling story on offer on the other side of the world – and what’s more, this one has just come to a satisfying conclusion.
Brett Archibald is a 50-year-old South African who signed up for a 10 day surfing expedition off the remote Mentawai Islands in Indonesia. The tour organisers, All Aboard Travel, says the region offers some of the best waves on the planet – but prospective surf-adventurers have to endure a 10 hour overnight crossing on the Indian Ocean to get there.
Mr Archibald and his friends were on the way out to the islands when the mishap happened. The weather was rough and at about 4:30 am, he says he went up on deck to relieve himself. In an interview with Surfing Life conducted via satellite phone, Archibald said, “I released I was really seasick. I had two really big vomits and then I think I blacked out while I was retching.”
When Brett Archibald regained consciousness, he was in the drink without a life jacket, watching the boat plough off into the distance. Oblivious to his plight, his friends slept – or battled sea-sickness in the cabins below deck.
Several hours later, the crew and passengers of the Naga Laut raised the alarm, notifying the Indonesian authorities and Archibald’s family back home. His wife Anita and the team at the tour operator pitched in and within hours the Indonesian maritime rescue service and a number of private charter operators were on the look out for the 50-year-old.
In the meantime, Archibald was involved in a gruesome battle for survival. “The night was carnage”, he said. “I had sharks swimming past me. I got stung by a jelly fish. Seagulls even tried to pick my eyes out and I have got big holes in my nose.”
“It was insane, just insane. I actually gave up.”
Still, Archibald says he pulled himself together and managed to swim and tread water for 28 hours – although he says he nearly drowned eight times.
The sight of the ketch Barrenjoey at 6:30am yesterday morning brought an emotional end to the ordeal. The boat belonged to Australians John and Belinda McGroder and they said he was “buoyed by a rush of adrenalin,” when they found him.
Craig Jarvis of All Aboard Tours told Channel 4 News tonight, “he still has a bit of damage to his kidneys and lungs due to dehydration, but other than that, he’s fine – just incredibly exhausted.”
Mr Jarvis had a surprise announcement. Archibald’s experience, not so horrific that he is prepared to cancel his plans for the next eight days – yes, Brett Archibald is going to continue his holiday.
That’s one hardy surfer.
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