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Old 22-08-2016, 03:05   #1
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PTSD after small storm

I know that the word PTSD is associated with much serious things, but I feel all the symptoms.

Basically, me, my gf and my dog all very inexperienced sailors, we were sailing during a nice day. When suddenly the weather changed and a storm approach us. I did not have the "thing" of closing the sails and motoring and we basically sailed the storm doing 7+ knots on a 30ft with a storm jib. The boat after a while start to be very hard to control and we were basically alternating between having the sails touching the water and being into the wind. Then, the wind dropped totally for 20 min, so then again I thought that the worst was over and I kept the sails open. After 20 min, the weather changed and the wind increased a lot. (I navigate in the Netherlands in the inner see) The sea or lake is very shallow and the waves are nasty. So, again we started to lose control and we were spinning out of control this endured until we did not touch something underground and we were stacked in the middle of the sea with the wind and waves breaking on our starboard side. I tried to motoring away but we were stacked. I had to call a Mayday and after 10 min the dragged us out of that situation. So ... it seems everything was fine. But we are both afraid to go back sailing, and I keep thinking about what could happen if the boat would capsized and how my gf and my dog life were put in danger by me and this feeling comes and goes during the day and I am doing things normal things and in one moment my hands freeze and I feel weak and then I back control of myself, my gf has the same feeling and I keep bouncing on everything, object fall from my hands, I keep hitting things with my feet or I don't see obstacle. I am essentially terrorized to have to come back to the sea, but I cannot stay here neither, because we are in the top north of the lake and I need to sail back to my marina and the wind for all the week is quite strong.

I feel I was an idiot, I did uncountable mistakes and I feel how bad could end a simple daily sail. I don't know if it account has a PTSD, but otherwise I dont know how categorize it. And I hope that writing this can help me to release the "thing"from inside me.
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Old 22-08-2016, 03:19   #2
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Learn from your mistakes, then get out on your boat again as soon as possible and practice some new techniques including reefing or furling the sails and how to heave to.
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Old 22-08-2016, 04:03   #3
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Pirata, you don't mention if you've taken any instruction on sailing. Find a sailing school, take the classes, and get back out there. Nothing beats fear like knowledge. If you continue to have the symptoms you described, seek professional help. There's no shame in that.

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Old 22-08-2016, 05:36   #4
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Second day I ever sailed I didn't check the forecast. We left with it blowing about 10-15 and sailed about 10 miles down the Potomac. It was cloudy, but no rain, never rained that day.

In seconds, it went from blowing 10 to blowing 40, it blew like that the rest of the day. We had full sail up and it pinned the boat down till I could ease the sheets. We had all the hatches and portholes open and took in some water.

When we righted, the Genoa whipped a few times in the wind and started coming apart. So we drop it and start sailing back under the main alone. I didn't have any of the reef points rigged but the trip back was now downwind but against the current. We were still overpowered and the waves got tall and steep. We still felt like we were in control.

I still hadn't started the engine when we were passing this commercial pier. The current started trying to suck us into that pier. I finally figured we weren't getting out of that situation under the mainsail and started the engine and motored the rest of the way back.

I learned a lot of lessons that day. The boat got properly rigged and better prepared, I check the weather and tides before any trip.

You can make the same preparations to your boat and yourself and have fun sailing. I've done a few thousand miles since that day, sometimes in worse conditions. It's all about your level of preparedness and confidence in your boat, and those can always increase.

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Old 22-08-2016, 05:38   #5
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Sharing your experience here hopefully will give you some alleviation of your anxiety and worry. You at least handled the boat well enough to keep your crew on board alive, and that's what matters. Don't beat yourself up too much about what could have been done, weather gets nasty quick and can make the most comfortable sailor worry. I think what others have said- you just need to try your best to put the worst behind you, go out and try to have a nice sail and move on. I am similar, when I go out with my friends, or especially my girlfriend and my dog, I always worry much more when we hit weather, just because I feel more responsible. Do NOT go out next week if the weather is bad, even if you are pressed for schedule. This is our best benefit of living in the modern age methinks, the ability of weather forecasting (even though its still not very accurate).
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Old 22-08-2016, 06:22   #6
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Yep, you learned. Congrats!

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Old 22-08-2016, 08:05   #7
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Best thing to do is get out there again.as soon as you can.
Make sure everyone, including the dog, has a good pfd. Then just go sailing again!
As stated, lessons will help and give you knowledge.
We have all had our share of scares. Especially when new to sailing. Thats normal and, as the guy before me said, you came back! You WERE doing something right.
There is no shame in not doing everything well the first time. As a friend of mine says, you suceeded in learning what you dont want. Sucess always!
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Old 22-08-2016, 08:14   #8
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pirate Re: PTSD after small storm

Contact someone you know with experience at your marina and ask them to come help you get your boat back to the marina.. pay their expenses if needed.. then sell the boat.
If you've been affected bad enough to be put into a 'Blue Funk' then sailing is not for you.. try something else..
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Old 22-08-2016, 08:20   #9
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Re: PTSD after small storm

A group of boats, including mine, got slammed Saturday by a surprise and severe storm. It was the worst I've been in for over a decade. We were hit by winds at least 40 knots, and another boat reported over 60 knots.

One boating family was notably distressed after the storm. They dragged anchor and reported to be heeled over up to the thru-hull windows (normally about a meter above water.)

They asked what I did during it all. My response "sat in the companionway and had a beer."

Note that your boat came out of it. Boats can handle a lot more than are given credit. You learned that your boat can handle it. I'm sure others will pipe in with learning experience details- what you shouldn't do next time. Don't give up on something so wonderful as sailing due to a bad experience.
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Old 22-08-2016, 09:43   #10
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Re: PTSD after small storm

When we arrived in Fiji in 1994, after sailing up from New Zealand though the Queen's Birthday Storm, a psychologist friend said we all had PTSD. We had never even heard of PTSD, but we certainly were exhausted and anxious. Though we had quite a bit more experience than you, it still took us a couple of months to calm down!

We were fortunate that we had the support of the cruising community, and were not alone. After a big welcome party, Jim and Ann Cate alternated with Millie of sv Palma in encouraging the skipper through steering gear repairs and the whole fleet bolstered our self-confidence.

It sounds like you are moored by yourselves in a far corner of the Inland Sea, though you do have an Internet connection. Getting help from an experienced friend sounds like great advice. Also, wait until you have a good weather window in which to move. Further, sailing lessons, learning to reef and heave to and anchor will help. The PTSD, if that's what it is, will probably take longer; right now it is premature to give up sailing and sell the boat. We had more than a few moments of feeling that we should do that ourselves, back in 1994, but instead continued on for more than ten years to complete our circumnavigation and still have the same old boat.
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Old 22-08-2016, 09:55   #11
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pirate Re: PTSD after small storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hene View Post
When we arrived in Fiji in 1994, after sailing up from New Zealand though the Queen's Birthday Storm, a psychologist friend said we all had PTSD. We had never even heard of PTSD, but we certainly were exhausted and anxious. Though we had quite a bit more experience than you, it still took us a couple of months to calm down!

We were fortunate that we had the support of the cruising community, and were not alone. After a big welcome party, Jim and Ann Cate alternated with Millie of sv Palma in encouraging the skipper through steering gear repairs and the whole fleet bolstered our self-confidence.

It sounds like you are moored by yourselves in a far corner of the Inland Sea, though you do have an Internet connection. Getting help from an experienced friend sounds like great advice. Also, wait until you have a good weather window in which to move. Further, sailing lessons, learning to reef and heave to and anchor will help. The PTSD, if that's what it is, will probably take longer; right now it is premature to give up sailing and sell the boat. We had more than a few moments of feeling that we should do that ourselves, back in 1994, but instead continued on for more than ten years to complete our circumnavigation and still have the same old boat.
I delivered a boat from S France to Tunisia.. an owner assist job.
It was mainly motoring most of the way apart from the last 50 odd miles into Beizerte.. that was sailed as the engine died.. tacking across TSS and shipping lanes.
Two weeks after I got home I received an e-mail asking if I wanted the boat as he was 'Off the Idea'..
I talked him into keeping the boat.. 'Give it a real go.. a 7 day trip is no test..
2 years later and quite a few thousand euro's later he gave the boat away..
It was not for him... the dream and the reality were just to many light year's apart..
Since then I stopped handing out 'Pick your Balls off the Floor' advice.. it proves costly to many.. and sometimes lethal to the odd one..
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Old 22-08-2016, 10:00   #12
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Contact someone you know with experience at your marina and ask them to come help you get your boat back to the marina.. pay their expenses if needed.. then sell the boat.
If you've been affected bad enough to be put into a 'Blue Funk' then sailing is not for you.. try something else..
I will work out something :P never give up on things!! Anyway what scary m is to kill other ppl not about my life. I never felt afraid for me, because I swim pretty good and the water is a friend element for me, but my gf doesn't know to swim too good and I would not have money to fix the boat.
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Old 22-08-2016, 10:03   #13
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I delivered a boat from S France to Tunisia.. an owner assist job.
It was mainly motoring most of the way apart from the last 50 odd miles into Beizerte.. that was sailed as the engine died.. tacking across TSS and shipping lanes.
Two weeks after I got home I received an e-mail asking if I wanted the boat as he was 'Off the Idea'..
I talked him into keeping the boat.. 'Give it a real go.. a 7 day trip is no test..
2 years later and quite a few thousand euro's later he gave the boat away..
It was not for him... the dream and the reality were just to many light year's apart..
Since then I stopped handing out 'Pick your Balls off the Floor' advice.. it proves costly to many.. and sometimes lethal to the odd one..
I can understand, we ask ourself the same question. I guess only the time and few other cruises can tell if we are made for this life or not.
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Old 22-08-2016, 10:05   #14
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Re: PTSD after small storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hene View Post
When we arrived in Fiji in 1994, after sailing up from New Zealand though the Queen's Birthday Storm, a psychologist friend said we all had PTSD. We had never even heard of PTSD, but we certainly were exhausted and anxious. Though we had quite a bit more experience than you, it still took us a couple of months to calm down!

We were fortunate that we had the support of the cruising community, and were not alone. After a big welcome party, Jim and Ann Cate alternated with Millie of sv Palma in encouraging the skipper through steering gear repairs and the whole fleet bolstered our self-confidence.

It sounds like you are moored by yourselves in a far corner of the Inland Sea, though you do have an Internet connection. Getting help from an experienced friend sounds like great advice. Also, wait until you have a good weather window in which to move. Further, sailing lessons, learning to reef and heave to and anchor will help. The PTSD, if that's what it is, will probably take longer; right now it is premature to give up sailing and sell the boat. We had more than a few moments of feeling that we should do that ourselves, back in 1994, but instead continued on for more than ten years to complete our circumnavigation and still have the same old boat.
That's great. I guess I have to give more time to the situation and more sailing with other experience ppl. I am planning to do something about. I have to figure out how to fight back this feeling.
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Old 22-08-2016, 10:30   #15
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Re: PTSD after small storm

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.
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