South African father of two, Brett Archibald, made headlines when he fell off a boat near Indonesia in the middle of the night…and survived to tell the tale 29 hours later. His story caught the attention of TV Shows like ’60 Minutes’, and the hearts of companies like Dr Pepper who have made him their Man of the Moment.
“Brett Archibald fell overboard on a surfing tour and fought the sea for 27 death-defying hours before being rescued. Some would never return to the water. He jumped on a surfboard and shredded through the rest of his vacation. Gentlemen, meet this month’s #ManoftheMoment!” were the words Dr Pepper used to describe him.
Brett was on a surf trip with friends near Sumatra Indonesia when he felt terribly seasick during a huge storm in the night, as the boat made its way towards the Metawaii islands. Brett made his way up to the deck…and then fell overboard.
The first news most of his South African friends heard was from Brett’s brother-in-law 14 hours later, begging family and friends to “PRAY for Brett Archibald for strength”. He reported on Facebook that “the coast guard boats and planes have searched the ocean all day…but found nothing yet” and that “it’s dark now and they have to stop searching and are hoping he has drifted to land.” He added positively that “the sea is warm” and that “we know he is strong enough mentally and physically to survive the night in the sea”.
It’s a sentiment many of his friends felt. If anyone had the perseverance to make it, it would be Brett.
And he did. Brett survived up to 29 hours in the ocean, alternating between treading water with his feet and paddling with his arms, so that his entire body never became too exhausted. He floated across approximately 30 km of open ocean, and in that time encountered a shark brushing past him, attracted by the blood that a seagull had drawn when it attacked him, leaving a scar above his nose. And every time he wanted to give up and sink to the ocean floor, he felt the power of those prayers from friends and family across the world, and rose back up again.
An Australian boat captain, Tony ‘Doris’ Eltherington, finally found him. Like Brett’s South African friends, Doris never gave up on looking for Brett. The legendary captain said that when he heard Brett was “51, a cyclist, fit, father of two – you know the guy’s got a lot more strength. The kids give you strength ’cause you wanna see them again. And once I heard he was a fit fella, I knew there was hope”.
The captain’s conviction paid off when he and his team were able to haul Brett out of the water and onto their boat for rehydration and recovery treatment.
When Brett, who is Goodwill Ambasssador for Christel House (school for disadvantaged children), thanked them and all those who touched his and his family’s life during his ordeal, he said “you are all amazing people that united in one wish, and that was to bring me safely home which is what happened. IT IS A MIRACLE.”
He says he is now looking forward to spending time with all these special people in the days, months and years ahead “to celebrate life, love, family and friends”.
Watch the 60 Minutes Video Trailer of Brett Archibald’s Story: