Surfer rarin’ to go after 27 hours adrift at sea

2013-04-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Brett Archibald (50), the Durban-born surfer who spent 27 hours adrift in a stormy sea, getting stung by jellyfish while keeping sharks and seagulls at bay, was already preparing to get back in the water yesterday.

When sister paper Die Burger called him for comment, Archibald was still sleeping “an Olympic sleep”, said Jean-Marc Tostee, a Durban surfer and one of the friends who had been on holiday in Indonesia with Archibald.

Tostee said that when Archibald was rescued, he was very thirsty and hungry, but full of jokes.

Archibald, a businessman from Camps Bay, is from Durban. He is married with two children. He made headlines on surfing and social media pages around the world after his 27-hour ordeal.

He was on a surfing tour with other mates, sailing on the Naga Laut from Padang to the Mentawai islands on the western coast of Sumatra on Wednesday morning when he fell overboard while being seasick.

Officials said he fell overboard between 4 am and 8 am. He was picked up at 6.30 am yesterday by an Australian boat, the Barrenjoey.

Tostee said he did not initially miss his mate from the cabin they shared, thinking Archibald had gone on deck to recover from seasickness.

“It was only after 8 am that we really started to panic and began searching,” he said.

A massive search-and-rescue operation was launched involving the maritime rescue authorities of Indonesia, the UK, Australia and Jakarta, as well as private boats and planes.

Tostee said they combed the sea all day with binoculars. When night fell, they knew he had been in the sea for 12 hours, but he didn’t lose hope.

“I believed that Archie was strong enough mentally and physically to survive the night in the sea if he hadn’t already been picked up by a local fisherman in a small boat or something similar.”

Yesterday, All Aboard Travel posted that Archibald had been rescued by Australians John and Doris McRoder in their boat Barrenjoey.

By then he had drifted 16 km in high swells, treading water and floating on his back for 27 hours.

Immediately after his rescue, Archibald told Surfing Life that at one point he had given up hope and tried to swallow water and just sink. But the water was too salty to swallow and he kept bobbing back to the surface.

Then he regained control and told himself to hold on. “I kept on treading water and swimming.”

Tostee said there were jubilation and even a few tears when Archibald was rescued.

He had spent the best part of yesterday sleeping aboard the Naga Laut, where it lay at anchor at Iceland, a popular surfing spot.

“When he awakes, we will give him another sleeping pill. But tomorrow we will surf at the most beautiful place,” said Tostee.

A comment on the Zigzag magazine website by a reader, Ann, summarised surfers’ feelings: “How amazing to wake up to this news. For once we have some good happening, he’s a flippin legend but there again he’s a surfer and you guys are another special breed.”

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