Lost and Found

South African surfer is rescued 27 hours after going overboard in Indo

| posted on April 17, 2013

A map depicts where Brett Archibald went missing and where he was found.

On Tuesday night, news broke that a South African surfer, Brett Archibald, 50, had fallen overboard the Nagu Laut boat while en route to the Mentawais on a surf trip. After a frantic search-and-rescue effort from the Nagu Laut and numerous other boats, Archibald was found alive 27 hours after going missing.

According to reports, Archibald was suffering from seasickness when he was suspected to have been knocked overboard during the early morning hours yesterday. When the crew realized he had gone overboard, they immediately began retracing their path and put out a call for help to other boats in the area.

A man named JM Tostee, who was aboard the Nagu Laut with Archibald, was quoted as saying that “Brett Archibald bunked with me on our current surf trip to the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra, Indonesia. He was very seasick last night and we think he must have fallen overboard while all of us were sleeping. I only discovered it hours later when we woke up  at the surf spot and worked out that he wasn’t in his bunk nor on the top deck. The coast guard boats and planes have searched the ocean all day, and so have we, but have found nothing yet. It’s dark now and we have to stop and start again tomorrow.”

Remarkably, news began circulating late Wednesday that Archibald had been found alive. Although sunburned and dehydrated, he was said to be in good shape and was picked up by the Barren Joey boat. A Facebook page providing details of the search exclaimed, “HE HAS BEEN FOUND! SUNBURNED AND DEHYDRATED BUT ALIVE.” The page went on to say, “He boarded a boat 20 minutes ago. He is alive…he was floating alone. The boat is taking him to the Indies Trader III so that he can phone his wife.”

According to the most recent report from Facebook, “the last thing he [Brett] remembers is vomiting overboard, then he blacked out. He woke up thinking someone was splashing water on his face and realized he was in the whitewash of the boat. He has been through the most radical 27 hours of treading water with no logs or assistance. He says he went under at least eight times but says it was ‘Not his time to die.'”

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Amazing story

  • Ben


  • Donnie


  • Scott

    Yeeeeew! Glad you made it!

  • http://surfer shawn

    spent ten hours throwing up over the deck in 2003…got dizzy and held on for dear life. I imagined falling overboard on several occasions that night on the way out from Padang. The boat captain made me sit close to the helm and I hacked all night…even passed out and banged my head on the railing, This poor guy is a survivor to the extreme degree. That is a black and lonely place when you are in the ocean during the middle of the night! Crazy story!

  • roebee

    heard that he remained in the Ments to surf, after the ordeal? If so, what a legend.
    does anyone know if thats true?

  • roebee

    to answer my own question, I just read an interview. An Aussie doc fixed him up and he is reunited with his original boat. He’s got 8 days left on his trip and he’s going surfing! so epic.

  • Derek

    Nice to hear a story with a happy ending with all the tragedy going on in the world.

  • Louigi

    Sounds like he could use a good rub and tug at the Depot.

  • Aaron

    GOD is Real!!!
    Brett has been blessed to surf another day.

  • Felix Saborio

    Great story of survival, makes me remember psalm 23: “I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me”.

  • Des in Bali

    The Lord be praised. So Brett made it for breakfast. We Capies are a tough lot, Brett. Survivors! If you’re going to lurch some more, wear a harness. It’s not sissy, not after your ordeal. Enjoy the surf. Better than Clifton, my old lifesaving beach – much warmer!