It was the beginning of an odyssey of survival for the then-50-year-old South African father of two, who battled sharks, jellyfish, dehydration and hallucinations while treading water for almost 29 hours.
Archibald recounted his incredible tale for the final installment of TODAY’s True Grit series. He also documented the experience in his book, “Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean.”
It began on a surfing trip with friends in the Mentawai Strait near Indonesia’s West Sumatra province in April 2013.
One night, he and some friends got severe food poisoning. In the middle of the night, amid rain and wind, he got up from bed to get sick over the side of the boat. He became dizzy, lost his footing, and plunged into the sea.
No one had seen him fall overboard. His first thought was that he was going to die.
“I knew it,” he said. “There was no shadow of a doubt.”
Archibald started to do the math, figuring it would be at least seven hours until his friends realized he was missing and about another seven hours until they were able to return to his location.
As Archibald floated in the ocean, he began to talk to God.
“The first conversations were very anger-driven,” he said. “I scream. I can’t even use the profanities that I used in that ocean.
“And then they evolved to reassessing my life. I reflected, I hadn’t been a good person. I thought I was a great father and husband, but when I was faced with reality, I hadn’t been.”
He then started reciting cell phone contacts and singing Elton John songs while swimming with the current to keep his mind occupied.