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Old 22-08-2016, 11:03   #16
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Re: PTSD after small storm

On our latest cruise, I found myself, once again, getting nervous in storms and big blows when we first left. But, by the end of the cruise, we were sitting in a 45 knot blow, drinking cocktails and enjoying the show.
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Old 22-08-2016, 13:04   #17
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Re: PTSD after small storm

I am by no means a professional but I believe I experienced PSTD after bucking 82 MPH winds off of Victoria one winter in a Southern Cross 39. By that time sails were down. Never felt afraid while on the water; only concerned the engine would die and wreck the boat. Ended up going against a 6 knot current in order to get back to Victoria.
For months afterwards I felt fear whenever I looked at the water. Diminished over time. Probably took 2 years to go away.
Sailed to Friday Harbor the next day by myself. Blew 104 that night in Friday Harbor which, was said, were the strongest winds ever recorded.
Learned what I already knew. Watch the weather and don't go out if your gut tells you not to.
I was teaching a heavy weather course demanded by the students. They left me in Victoria.
I think they learned about heavy weather.
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Old 22-08-2016, 13:15   #18
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Re: PTSD after small storm

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Originally Posted by dgz3 View Post
If you are staying on the boat at a marina, then get off it and go rent a hotel room. Right now. Your credit card probably needs some exercise anyway. Once you are off the boat your perspective may change. You will be able to come up with a plan that makes you feel better about the future, near and far.

You may feel foolish for experiencing symptoms of PTSD from what you consider was a minor incident. Nobody was shooting at you. No one was killed. No dismembered body parts laying around. Not in a war, etc.

But perception is everything. And you truly felt your lives in danger. You were not wrong. And as the "captain," you feel it was your responsibility, and that you failed by placing your vessel and your lives at risk. That is real enough. You should feel upset about it. It is more than enough to cause the symptoms you describe.

There is nothing wrong or inappropriate about your feelings. So NO need to feel embarrassed about it. But what to do? You have to DO something.

First, understand that as bad as you feel now, it will get better with time. It will pass.

"Time heals all wounds. " Sounds simple, but it is true. So make an exercise out of not thinking about it as much as possible and eventually you will find yourself thinking about it less. When you have those thoughts, push them out of your mind, and go do something else. Time will pass. And the symptoms will ease. All by themselves. Tomorrow will be better than today. And the next day better than tomorrow.

Some mental health "experts" will disagree. They will want you to talk about it all endlessly so you can "work out all your issues." Mostly they will want to "work out" your bank account and insurance in return for continuously having you dredge up and relive your most frightening experiences. Keeping them all nice and fresh. Preventing your normal processing and forgetting. Then they will prescribe drugs to calm you down. Drugs you cannot easily stop later. Drugs they will want you to stay on for the rest of your life.

Your mind has a wonderful mechanism called repression. Your mind will bury these events and forget all about them. If you let it. So know that eventually you will be ok. Just believing in that should help you.

Second, decide if you want to sail again or not. No law says you have to ever get on another boat again as long as you live. If you decide to never do it again, then that particular threat and source of stress is immediately gone forever. No boat, no problem. Ask someone else to sail it back. Move. Sell the boat. Take the bus home. Or rent a car. Buy a caravan and go camping instead. Done.

If you decide you want to continue sailing, then do what someone above suggested.
Arm yourself with knowledge. Read, study, take lessons. Practice in easy conditions. Improve your skills to the point that you become confident that you will not make those particular mistakes again. You will make other mistakes, but you will know how to handle them. Your biggest mistake was really simple. You went on the wrong day. In a machine you did not know how to operate.
So you have already learned;
lesson number one: learn how to work the boat.
Lesson number two: check the weather.

Maybe this doesn't help you this week. So leave the boat where it is for now. Or have someone else take it back. Don't force yourself to do something you are not mentally prepared to. It is not war time. No one's life depends on you sailing anywhere this week. Forcing yourself, and your girlfriend, and your dog for that matter, back to sea may make it all worse. Or maybe it will cure you. But it could go either way. And it won't be fun.
If you are determined to go and you must go now, then go by yourself. The will remove the stress of being responsible for everyone else.

Third, if you feel you are truly in danger of a breakdown, if you cannot function, if you cannot sleep at all, crying, having violent temper outbursts... then go to a hospital emergency room. There are drugs that can be prescribed to calm your symptoms within 20 minutes or so. Quick acting and no lingering effects. Alcohol is not one of them.

If you are really having a hard time, then go get some emergency help now. And take your girlfriend with you. The dog will be ok.
Thanks I really like your post and I agree with everything you wrote. I did courses and read books, what I need is sailing with experienced people and learn from them and foremost I need a damn good navionics map and a deep meter. Tomorrow, I will install lazyjacks, jacklines, harness, I bought the map, tomorrow we will install the deepmeter and I need a knife. I will reef the main sail and reduce the jib storm. That's the plan. : )
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Old 22-08-2016, 13:29   #19
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Pirata,

That sounds like it was pretty unpleasant. You also may be right, that you have PTSD from it. However, as suggested above, you seem to be coping with it, and working it out, all of which is good.

Yes, you did learn some things you want to be able to do better. Nobody is born knowing how to sail a small yacht successfully. I don't know about you guys, but for me, learning more is what makes me less afraid. Not exactly that I am in control, but that I know what to do, and when.

As $$ permits, get yourself a wind gauge that reads out both wind direction and speed.
That will allow you to correlate when to reef with those factors. If you do not presently have reef points in your main, it would be a good idea to install two. When you have figured out what sail plans to use for what conditions, life will be better. When we sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii on Jim's 30 footer, we carried, storm jib, a reefable working jib*, genoa (a 130%, if I recall correctly), and the main had two reefs.

If you do not feel safe getting around on the boat, you can consider jack lines and a tether. Some people use two, a long one and a short one. Some use flat webbing for them, we used our cast off lowers. Also, it is best, if leaving the cockpit to go on the uphill side, the windward side.

Shallow waters kick up steep "square" seas, and they can be quite rough, but that's okay, you needed less sail area up, you needed to sail the boat effectively.

Sometimes when it is really fierce, you need just a storm jib, having taken down your working jib and main. These are things you can work out by trial and error, although lessons might speed up your rate of learning.

Above, someone suggested having a more experienced friend sail the boat back with you, or maybe there's someone in your area from CF who could lend a hand. That seems like a good possibility to me.

We can't tell what's best for you, to continue, as you seem to want to, or toss it. I know someone who had PTSD following a dismasting, had 6 sessions of counseling afterwards, and did continue sailing. I'd say counseling is an option, but I like better the idea of getting back on the horse and riding--so to speak-- it is a better option. It builds confidence.

Finally, do talk with the gf about it, she may have some useful input, knowing you, and all.

Cheers, mate.

Ann

PS. That reefable jib was a total pain to tie all the reefs in. This was long ago, before roller furling.
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Old 22-08-2016, 13:39   #20
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Post Re: PTSD after small storm

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Pirata,

That sounds like it was pretty unpleasant. You also may be right, that you have PTSD from it. However, as suggested above, you seem to be coping with it, and working it out, all of which is good.

Yes, you did learn some things you want to be able to do better. Nobody is born knowing how to sail a small yacht successfully. I don't know about you guys, but for me, learning more is what makes me less afraid. Not exactly that I am in control, but that I know what to do, and when.

As $$ permits, get yourself a wind gauge that reads out both wind direction and speed.
That will allow you to correlate when to reef with those factors.

Shallow waters kick up steep "square" seas, and they can be quite rough, but that's okay, you needed less sail area up, you needed to sail the boat effectively.

Sometimes when it is really fierce, you need just a storm jib, having taken down your working jib and main. These are things you can work out.

Above, someone suggested having a more experienced friend sail the boat back with you, or maybe there's someone in your area from CF who could lend a hand.

We can't tell what's best for you, to continue, as you seem to want to, or toss it. I know someone who had PTSD following a dismasting, had 6 sessions of counseling afterwards, and did continue sailing. I'd say counseling is an option, but I like better the idea of getting back on the horse and riding--so to speak-- it is a better option. It builds confidence.

Finally, do talk with the gf about it, she may have some useful input, knowing you, and all.

Cheers, mate.

Ann
All true, and already speaking about it now I feel better. I feel I can face my mistakes and I am working out a solution and this make me feel more focus on the mission. I will for sure look for someone here to sail with because I really want to keep growing in this nautical word and I won't allow a nerves breakdown to stop me. : )
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Old 22-08-2016, 13:52   #21
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Did this happen on Saturday? I was out in the Ijsselmeer on Saturday and a line of squalls came through with gust into the low '40's. We heard a mayday call. It was unpleasant weather.

Those conditions are not what we would really call a "storm" -- just a squall which commonly occurs when a frontal system comes through. Handling it in a small boat is just one of many skills you have to learn before you can be reasonably safe out there.

Wind, up to almost unlimited speeds, is not really dangerous as long as it doesn't last long enough to create a big sea state. You did the right thing by taking the sails down and putting up the storm jib. The easiest way to deal with it after that is to just run downwind, assuming you have sea room for that. 40 knots of wind without a big sea state is easy peasy, even in a very small boat, if you have room to run off. By running off, you reduce the apparent wind by your boat speed and reduce the forces, including especially the forces of your boat meeting whatever waves are being generated by the wind.

Note that you should not under any circumstances use the mainsail, if you use this tactic. The mainsail and boom are hard to control running off in strong wind, and will tend to broach the boat because the center of effort of the mainsail is behind the keel. Use just a bit of headsail -- a storm jib, or well reefed down jib or staysail of some sort. Keep the mainsail put away and tied down securely, preferably under its cover if you have time, and it is important to have the boom centered and tied down very securely, so that it doesn't get loose.

If you don't have room to run off, then I would suggest the next thing to try is to motor against the wind, just fast enough to keep the bow from being blown off. What you want to avoid is being broadside to the wind and seas, especially if these are coming from different directions. That is no doubt what happened to you in this case. So just remember -- either bow or stern into the wind and waves, avoid being broadside to them.

You've had your first hard practical lesson. Congratulations! We've all been through a few experiences like that -- it's par for the course. Now concentrate on learning and building up your skills. Good luck.
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Old 22-08-2016, 15:17   #22
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Re: PTSD after small storm

well done you survived/ you can down sails and anchor /run off bare poles /hove to/your boat looked after you/you need to learn to look after your boat/watch the weather/ sail in good weather and enjoy slowly furling, reefing etc /fear is good you will be careful.
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Old 22-08-2016, 18:07   #23
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Having read through all of this....The simple question that comes to my mind is this.

Isn't there a cruisers forum member in Holland some where who could spare the time to help this fellow out?
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Old 22-08-2016, 18:47   #24
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Re: PTSD after small storm

I'm new to this forum and new to the boating/sailing world. When we first got our sailboat last year (we started small with a Super Sunfish) we didn't check the weather the first time we took it out. My boyfriend took a friend out and the friend ended up jumping out and swimming back to shore (they hadn't gotten very far). The BF ended up capsizing 12 times and turtling twice. He saved the beer cooler every time though! But the current got him and he was getting tired and he kept getting swept further and further away. I ended up swimming over half a mile (possibly a mile) to get to him and pull the sailboat to shore which we ended up walking back to the dock. Very stressful situation! I was fairly leery of sailing for a few months after that.
As far as your situation, I have a graduate degree in psychology and I can tell you that you can definitely have PTSD! I agree with what a lot of people have said so far--your support group and knowledge will help you overcome it. And of course your support group can always consist of professional help as well as friends and family. Also, I'm taking some classes now and I'm feeling less anxious. Additionally, you might consider taking an experienced friend with you on some excursions (even if the weather looks nice) so they can help you learn.
Good luck!
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Old 23-08-2016, 01:29   #25
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Re: PTSD after small storm

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Did this happen on Saturday? I was out in the Ijsselmeer on Saturday and a line of squalls came through with gust into the low '40's. We heard a mayday call. It was unpleasant weather.

Those conditions are not what we would really call a "storm" -- just a squall which commonly occurs when a frontal system comes through. Handling it in a small boat is just one of many skills you have to learn before you can be reasonably safe out there.

Wind, up to almost unlimited speeds, is not really dangerous as long as it doesn't last long enough to create a big sea state. You did the right thing by taking the sails down and putting up the storm jib. The easiest way to deal with it after that is to just run downwind, assuming you have sea room for that. 40 knots of wind without a big sea state is easy peasy, even in a very small boat, if you have room to run off. By running off, you reduce the apparent wind by your boat speed and reduce the forces, including especially the forces of your boat meeting whatever waves are being generated by the wind.

Note that you should not under any circumstances use the mainsail, if you use this tactic. The mainsail and boom are hard to control running off in strong wind, and will tend to broach the boat because the center of effort of the mainsail is behind the keel. Use just a bit of headsail -- a storm jib, or well reefed down jib or staysail of some sort. Keep the mainsail put away and tied down securely, preferably under its cover if you have time, and it is important to have the boom centered and tied down very securely, so that it doesn't get loose.

If you don't have room to run off, then I would suggest the next thing to try is to motor against the wind, just fast enough to keep the bow from being blown off. What you want to avoid is being broadside to the wind and seas, especially if these are coming from different directions. That is no doubt what happened to you in this case. So just remember -- either bow or stern into the wind and waves, avoid being broadside to them.

You've had your first hard practical lesson. Congratulations! We've all been through a few experiences like that -- it's par for the course. Now concentrate on learning and building up your skills. Good luck.
It was not the weather itself or the wind, but the fact that we were stacked in the middle of the sea with rogue waves beating us every 3 seconds. It is very very shallow 0.8m there. And it basically was awful because we were afraid that the boat would capsized because of the waves basically making us roll from one side. After, I enter in the narrow entrance of the marina with almost 19knots of wind and huge waves, it was hard but not scary. Today I feel much better because I have finally installed the Navionics map, so I won't anymore navigate in shallow waters anymore.
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Old 23-08-2016, 01:32   #26
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Re: PTSD after small storm

I have to say that I learned more from this situation than any sailing course previously attended. My today feelings are:
" can do it. I got my ass kicked, but now it is time to comeback to sail, have more training and do everything how should be done. I will train and learn how to be able to handle anything"
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Old 23-08-2016, 04:57   #27
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Re: PTSD after small storm

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I have to say that I learned more from this situation than any sailing course previously attended. My today feelings are:
" can do it. I got my ass kicked, but now it is time to comeback to sail, have more training and do everything how should be done. I will train and learn how to be able to handle anything"
Bravo!

Believe me, many of us, maybe even most of us, started out with just such an experience, with the sea giving us a complete and terrifying ass-kicking which showed us how helpless and lacking in skill we were.

It's a very, very good lesson, and will set the agenda for future learning. By bouncing back with grit and determination, you're also learning something about yourself.

In this sport, you have to face down uncontrollable forces of nature which can kill you, if you don't prepare and manage yourself and your boat correctly. One of its main joys is that at some point, you will find yourself with another such squall approaching, and you will look up and say "I'm ready for you, you bastard!", and you'll know exactly what to do, and it will be no big deal.


Of course then at some later point the sea will give you another thrashing, and the whole cycle starts again Welcome to sailing
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Old 23-08-2016, 12:11   #28
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Re: PTSD after small storm

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Bravo!

Believe me, many of us, maybe even most of us, started out with just such an experience, with the sea giving us a complete and terrifying ass-kicking which showed us how helpless and lacking in skill we were.

It's a very, very good lesson, and will set the agenda for future learning. By bouncing back with grit and determination, you're also learning something about yourself.

In this sport, you have to face down uncontrollable forces of nature which can kill you, if you don't prepare and manage yourself and your boat correctly. One of its main joys is that at some point, you will find yourself with another such squall approaching, and you will look up and say "I'm ready for you, you bastard!", and you'll know exactly what to do, and it will be no big deal.


Of course then at some later point the sea will give you another thrashing, and the whole cycle starts again Welcome to sailing
I'll second that. I got beat like a stepchild that stole something last weekend. Survived, learned and ready to go again. Don't give up the starry nights with warm breezes or an exhilarating sail over frolicking whitecaps because of one spanking. When you think you have it all figured out sell the boat and save you and your passenger's lives. Sailing is a process not a destination. If you weren't at least concerned you would be a menace. I'm still mulling over all the things that could have gone wrong. Learn, inquire, practice, repeat, do it again. You have now learned the questions to ask. Keep it going.
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Old 23-08-2016, 12:35   #29
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Talking and being honest about your experience is the first step to recovery
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Old 23-08-2016, 13:42   #30
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Re: PTSD after small storm

What you experienced was fear brought on by the storm and your lack of experience to deal with it, this created an anxiety and panic phase.
How to deal with it, learn from your mistakes. You are fortunate you survived.
Personally I think the term PTSD is over used and applied to anything that in my younger days would be considered learning from from your own mistakes.
Take lessons learn to sail with guidance in all sea states and know what to do when the s...t hits the fan.
By the way I know what PTSD is I served 22yrs in the armed forces and what you have is not PTSD. You may feel guilty about putting your gf and dog plus yourself in a situation you did not have the knowledge and experience to deal with dont beat yourself up and try and over think the issue. Learn by it train for it and go sailing.
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