Brett Archibald spent 28 hours alone, lost at sea with nothing but his faith, family and friends to guide him.
Brett’s impossible story is chronicled in his book Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean. . His tale starts with a group of lifelong friends celebrating one of their group’s 50th birthday.
A case of food poisoning puts Brett on the railing of the ship in a storm as he and friends crossed the Mentawai Strait off Sumatra, Indonesia. At some point, Brett blacked out and was thrown into the ocean.
Once he came to, Brett watched as the ship continued on without him. He waved, yelled but realized, nobody had seen him fall into the ocean. 8 hours after falling, Brett’s friends finally realized the horrible truth.
Brett’s friends, finally realizing he was missing, began retracing their path. Accounting for the storm, currents, etc. Incredibly, they came within yards of rescuing him 12 hours after he fell in the ocean. However, the fates denied Brett and his mates the rescue. As Brett celebrated seeing his friends approach, thinking he was going to be saved, while within shouting range on a normal night, they never saw or heard him.
To his horror, Brett’s life remained lost as his friends again left him alone in the ocean.
Brett fought to stay alive, treading water, battling hallucinations, and fighting off animal threats. At one point Brett thought he saw a couple of boys in a kayak. He swam to great them, thanking them for his rescue–they were never real. At one point, he swam for his life towards a distant buoy that never existed. A pirate ship lowered its rope ladder, “Swim young man,” the command from a pirate–a figment of Brett’s mind.
Through the night, Brett found he wasn’t alone. Brett encountered; a curious shark, stung by a jellyfish, nibbled on by fish and attacked by seagulls as they came to eat his eyes. Brett nearly died 8 different times by his count.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
A group of Aussies on a divine mission, led by their own friend who’d passed earlier that day, found Brett. Using the last of his energy, Brett yelled and waved grabbing the attention of the crew. A roar arose from the boat, they’d saved him.
The Aussie crew threw Brett a life preserver, it landed 15 ft away; Brett was spent. He cramped and began to slip underwater. Brett noted the irony, the Aussie found him, but he’d die within arm’s reach before being pulled from the ocean–luckily for Brett, the Aussies met the final test for him. From the crew, a lifeguard from Perth, dove in to rescue Brett as he slowly and peacefully sank to forever.
As the boat powered away from him that night, he left behind the desire to accumulate wealth, power and influence. What remained with him in the ocean, as he fought for his life, the F’s; Faith Family and Friends.