Brett on the boat
When Brett Archibald fell overboard in the middle of a stormy night in the Indian Ocean he thought he was going to die. For more than 28 hours he was alone at sea, encountering a shark and being attacked by gulls for his eyeballs. Here is his story.

“I just watched the lights of the boat disappear. I screamed, I screamed with everything I had in my lungs, but I realised very quickly that they were never going to hear me.”

Brett Archibald relives the moment he thought his life was over. At 02:30 local time on 17 April 2013, in the middle of a storm in the Indian Ocean, he had fallen overboard after passing out on the top deck of a hired boat off the coast of Indonesia. It was dark and pouring with rain.

He was on a surfing holiday with nine friends, but had fallen ill from food poisoning during a 10-hour journey along a stretch of water known as the Mentawai Strait in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province.

He had gone to the side of the boat – the Naga Laut – to be ill overboard, when he became dizzy and blacked out. When he woke, he was in the water – the boat already 10 or 15 metres ahead of him.

“I swam with everything I could, but there was no way I was going to catch a boat,” he tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Brett – then aged 50 – from Cape Town, South Africa, remembers being in complete shock. He had never imagined he would be susceptible to falling overboard.

As the boat continued into the distance he remembers staring at the sky, his ears pricking up at the sound of an animalistic cry – that was coming from within.

“I thought there was a hyena in the water – it was a manic, crazy laugh. I looked around me and it was me. It was this crazy noise coming out of my throat, like hysterical laughter.”

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