A surfer has survived for more than 27 hours in the Indian Ocean despite being stung by jellyfish, bitten by fish and attacked by seagulls trying to peck out his eyes after falling overboard from a private charter boat.
South African Brett Archibald tumbled into the sea off the coast of Sumatra near Pedang in northern Indonesia. Mr Archibald, who was thought to be suffering from seasickness when he fell, was found floating on his back in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
It was only discovered that he had disappeared when he failed to arrive for breakfast, more than four hours after he entered the water. Once the crew of the Naga Laut discovered he was missing they immediately turned round to retrace their path. Other charter boats and Indonesian authorities joined the search before he was spotted by the Sydney-owned Barrenjoey, which found Mr Archibald near Sipora Island, about 10 miles from where he vanished. A fellow surfer who was aboard the Naga Laut told the surfing magazine Stab: “We think he must have fallen overboard when getting sick on deck while everyone was sleeping.” Referring to Mr Archibald by the nickname Archie he added: “Archie is strong enough mentally and physically to survive.”
All Aboard Travel charter fleet, which includes the Barrenjoey, said on its Facebook page: “He woke up thinking someone was splashing water on his face and realised he was in the whitewash of the boat, but he is in good spirits.”
Speaking to his wife Anita in Cape Town by phone, Mr Archibald said he came close to drowning at least eight times but added that he had no intention of returning home early from his surfing holiday. After thanking his rescuers he reboarded the Naga Laut and returned to Pedang.
Mr Archibald’s ordeal was made all the more remarkable by the strong currents and debris in the 90-mile strait between Pedang and the Mentawai islands. Tree trunks were found floating in the water, which made it difficult for rescuers to find him.