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Old 15-06-2009, 02:42   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Live to Dive View Post
I have a very similar story as well.

I got married once and.............

I got married twice...............
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Old 15-06-2009, 06:28   #32
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Live to Dive & Golden Wattle,

Sounds like you two should have asked for references...
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Old 15-06-2009, 09:17   #33
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The symptoms your describe sound like "Rhythmic Disorder" which is associated with mild Autism—also indicated by a difficulty or inability to relate to others particularly under stress. If Autism, a marginally functional Autistic under “normal” circumstances could have difficulties functioning in a relatively higher anxiety environment. Further, during the Viet Nam war we occasionally observed “rocking and moaning” in troops suffering from Traumatic Stress Disorder aka “Combat Fatigue”. If these guys weren’t taken off the line they eventually entirely failed to function, endangering themselves and others by their unpredictable behaviors.

Undoubtedly, taking a crew aboard without first checking references and prior crew-mates is asking for trouble. I have only done that once but had the good fortune to end up with a fellow that, tho' obviously far less experienced then represented, seemed quite fearless and unruffled by any circumstance including getting caught in Hurricane Gordon. Afterward, safely ashore, when asked if the experience hadn’t been frightening for him, he responded that he figured that if I weren’t scared, he had nothing to worry about. Obviously he didn’t notice that I was scared silly in the event.


FWIW...

Addenda: I just recalled that on one of Chay Blyth's Challange yacht races--a crew that began to demonstrate the symptoms you described stepped off the transom of one of the boats during his night watch in the Southern Ocean. His crew was unable to recover him.
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Old 15-06-2009, 10:44   #34
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It was growling (like a dog) not moaning if that makes a difference. And though it would of complicated matters, I secretly wished he would walk off the transom. I know that sounds horrible but though I try to make light of it, 14 days with a big angry guy doing pretty wierd things is extremely dangerous. During our bad storm he bolted out into the cockpit and pushed the engine to full throttle. The only thing keeping the boat safe was that engine- we needed it. In fact, that episode began a series of events that resulted in a 3/4 gallon a min leak from our stuffing box and the one by one the death of all our bilge pumps (3). I ended up bailing the bilge by hand every 30-40 min to keep the water below the engine. The Captain was sea sick, the one time I asked Psycho to bail he didn't, so it was me for the last four days of the trip cuddled up to a egg timer and bailing. Hence the secret wish he'd be gone.

Erika
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Old 15-06-2009, 11:01   #35
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OK so the stuffing box leak and hand bailing and soloing due to psycho & seasickness for the last four days adds a whole 'nother dimension to the story. I can see why you wanted to be able to approve of crew before further sailing!
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Old 15-06-2009, 14:41   #36
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OK, here's something you might want to carry with ya: Amazon.com: Where There Is No Psychiatrist: A Mental Health Care Manual (Books Beyond Words): Vikram Patel: Books
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Old 15-06-2009, 16:46   #37
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Christian, I carry one in my back pocket!

My first ICW delivery and my first Offshore trip was crazy (like stories above). but it has gradually gotten better. My last trip across the gulf from the keys to Matagorda was boring and that is a beautiful thing!
Just so you guys don't think I'm a magnet for disasters it been 13 years since I've had to deal with a psycho, or a survival storm, or even a sinking I think God just wanted to get it all over with my first few years of sailing.

Cheers,
Erika
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Old 15-06-2009, 16:51   #38
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Christian, I carry one in my back pocket!
Gives a whole new meaning to " Hey, look me up sometime!"
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Old 16-06-2009, 00:54   #39
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Live to Dive & Golden Wattle,

Sounds like you two should have asked for references...
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Hud you are correct.
They should have named me Avalanche, when I fall I fall big time.

Ha!
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Old 16-06-2009, 05:45   #40
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Lesson to be learnt from this so far.
#1 If crewing and you start to feel some anxiety , don't sit and rock / growl . Nibble on first mates ankle to alleviate all tension.

Regards Jim
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Old 16-06-2009, 07:03   #41
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Old 16-06-2009, 09:12   #42
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As a psychologist/cruiser, I'll respond to a bit of this. First of all, the behaviors you describe are seen in a variety of disorders and are typically indicative of an attempt to limit and control external stimuli that the person finds disturbing. As svHyLyte mentioned, autistic spectrum disorders often have this feature, as well as severe anxiety disorders (of which PTSD is one). Schizophrenia (particularly chronic undifferentiated type) also comes to mind. The nibbling on the ankle (absent an intimate relationship in which this may be a form of foreplay) seems like pretty bizarre judgment, which leads me to think more in the schizophrenia area. Obviously, there's not enough information here with which to actually diagnose and these are just rambling hypotheses.

However, a few suggestions:

1. As we all know, sailing can be a very stressful activity, both physically and psychologically. People with tenuous grasps on reality in the first place can be easily overwhelmed and (as Dave eloquently discusses) decompensation is a real risk. If a person is being preoccupied with internal stimuli (and schizophrenia does this, with both auditory and visual hallucinations often present when someone is acutely ill), taking a watch (most especially at night!) is certainly NOT recommended. Can you imagine someone being fixated on "those pretty (or more likely, scary) lights" yet never thinking about what they actually represent? Oh, my! If the weather kicks up and the adrenaline starts flowing, it will just get worse and worse, too. So, at the risk of seeming intrusive, ask a prospective crew -- "have you ever been in a psychiatric facility?" Chances are, someone with a serious mental illness has been. You might not get an honest answer, but you might get enough body language and evasiveness in the answer to give you a clue that something isn't right.

2. On extended passages (and, really, anything two nights or more qualifies) the sleep/watch schedule becomes really important. Mess up our circadian rhythm and things start getting really weird in our brains and the two things that go first are judgment and perception. Even in otherwise healthy, fit people with no history of mental problems. Set a schedule and keep to it. Off-watch person sleeps! No exceptions. If they can't get to sleep, then they at least lay down and rest. Eat regularly! Drink plenty of water! Bathe, even if just a sponge off. It probably won't be the first night that will get you, but the second.

3. Number of crew on the boat greatly influences #2. Two people make it real hard to get a natural rhythm. Three makes it much easier. Four makes it a snap.

4. I know it seems self-evident, but no recreational drugs/alcohol on passage, or the night before departure (that's the hard part). The after effects of hard partying extend for at least 36 hours before our livers can metabolize it all out of us and the mental fatigue (which, really, is altered neurotransmitters in our brains) can go for a bit longer. Good rest and healthy food really count. If the person takes regular medication, for any condition, they should take extra care to keep on that schedule. Lots of people regularly take things like antidepressants and antianxiety meds and these should not automatically rule them out (but it is another question you should ask and then inquire as to why) -- going off of them suddenly can wreck havoc. Stay on the schedule.

Hope this helps.

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Old 16-06-2009, 21:36   #43
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where were you when I needed you!

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Old 16-06-2009, 22:16   #44
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Erika, it sounds like you've had some real adventures! Most of them positive, I bet, but you've certainly run into some weird ones, too.

I've never been in the position of having unknown crew, or crewing for others unknown to me. I guess I've been lucky and had friends and family, well qualified, ready and willing to be there.

I'm not sure what I would do if the situation were different. I'd be real tempted to haul out the old ink blots, though. Would that be offensive? I guess, probably. But most of my questions along the same lines would probably strike someone as very intrusive. Yet, what else can we do? Holy moly, we're out in the middle of the ocean where lord-knows-what-crap can happen, with a stranger? Who might (literally) not be seeing what is plainly obvious; or, might actually be seeing stuff that isn't really there? Whose judgment might be so impaired that we all die?

Serious stuff. Maybe that idea of developing some sort of crew mental health screen that can be easily administered by a layperson isn't such a bad idea. Have to think about that.

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Old 16-06-2009, 23:22   #45
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Actually, that is a great Idea. Especially from your perspective of cruiser/psychologist.

Erika


After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, 'No hablo ingles.' Ronnie Shakes
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