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Old 21-08-2006, 16:13   #1
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Red face Motion Induced Fatigue (MIF)

For the past 2 months, I have been going sailing every other week for a full 24 hours of blue ocean sailing. I single-hand a 30 foot sloop with hanked on sails.

I am excited when I am on my way to the boat, but I end up getting very fatigued and lack motivation about 1 hour after I get on the water. I am almost certain that MIF is responsible for putting babies to sleep in a rocking bassinet.

My symptoms get progressivly worse as the hours continue until I get to the point of feeling quezee, although I have never gotten nausiated or tossed cookies. I do get very irritable and all I want to do is sleep. To me this sounds like a mild case of sea sickness. Mild as it may be, it takes all of the enjoyment out of sailing. I wonder if I will adapt over time and how much time it will take to adapt if sailing for for only 24 hours every other week.

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Old 21-08-2006, 16:32   #2
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I had read some work some time ago that the combination of motion, flashing lights (from sun reflections) and all DO actually have the same effects as some drugs or alcohol, so it isn't just your imagination. It might be some motion sickness, but the only way to test for that would be for you to try some seasick meds AT HOME ON LAND, only one per day, and see which of those did not make you tired or irritable. Many will. Dramamine makes a fine sleeping aid.<G> Then try the more effective ones on the boat, see what works for you or if anything works for you.
Powdered ginger (sold in capsules in health food stores, or you can buy it in the spice section and load it into some empty capsules bought from the druggist, much cheaper) is one seasickness med that works as well as many drug drugs without any side effects, except perhaps some redness in the face and the hiccups. It makes a good wasy to start.
On the other end of the scale is scopalamine, which is either a killer or a miracle blessing depending on how it effects you. By Rx only. Somewhere in between...it is worth knowing how or if some of those will work for you.
I'd certainly try them, and don't worry about what to do with all the unused stuff--someone you know will always be asking if you have anything for seasickness, or your dockmaster can find customers for them.
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Old 21-08-2006, 18:22   #3
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These are indications of a type of motion sickness. It has been the subject of limited study and reported in the journal, Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. Promethazine has been shown is low dosages (25 mg) to counter this type of motion sickness effects. The problem, though, is that while the astronaut subjects "feel better", subjectively, they make more mistakes in judgment and do less well in performing tasks. By the way, this is not an uncommon finding in most any of the anti-seasickness medications and it gets worse with the greater dosages taken.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promethazine

Best advice: See if you can stick to the non-medical interventions (e.g., ginger), or the acupressure points (e.g., "Relief Band" -- yes, in single blind studies done by real researchers and not the company, they have been shown to have significantly beneficial effects). If they provide at least enough relief to get you through 48 to 72 hours, then you will most likely be fine. Just about everyone's brain does adjust. (Not 100%, but almost.) The drugs are your next line, and they too will work for many people. They don't all the work the same and you may to try different ones to find one that works best for you. Do NOT automatically go to the higher doses, though. Most of the studies show that the lower doses are just as effective in countering the motion sickness as the higher doses, with less side effects.

Also, don't go through the 'finding what works for me' by yourself. If your judgment does become impaired, believe me, you will be the last to know.

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Old 21-08-2006, 18:25   #4
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Make a big mug of steaming tea (caffeinated). Add a slice of fresh ginger at the same time as the tea bag. Add sugar or sugar free sweetener, a squeeze of fresh lime.

I find that fresh ginger works better than powdered. It keeps unrefrigerated on our boat for weeks. (The sliced areas sort of heal up) Sometimes a happy chunk of ginger even grows some new sprouts.

Best thing for mal de mer I have found - I think it's the combination of caffeine and ginger. I always do this before we head out on a choppy passage, and make more along the way.

In rare cases where responsibility is not an issue, an added splash of rum is nice.

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Old 21-08-2006, 18:42   #5
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Red face Motion-induced Fatigue

Hello & Entlie:

Motion-induced fatigue is a sister-effect of sea sickness, with its own set of symptoms, and apparently, its own poorly-understood causes. Both, from what I can gather, fall under the category of "motion-induced sickness."

Sea-sickness medicines aren't designed to address MIF specifically, but since causes may be convergent to a degree, it couldn't hurt to experiment with them. If he's so inclined, I'd think Puffin would want to try them out on his passages, drowsiness-inducing potential or no. He's already quite uncomfortable.


Puffin,

I read that you are fairly miserable after only an hour away from the dock. Out of that twenty-four hour sail, what is your typical work/sleep routine like? Do you leave the dock caught up in sleep, or already behind? Do you grab any sleep during your passage, and if you do, are your symptoms alleviated to any degree afterward?

How long have you been sailing? Have you always experienced this malady soon after beginning a sail, or is it a recently-acquired affliction? Has it happened on other boats, or only this boat?

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Old 21-08-2006, 18:54   #6
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I suppose it is worth mentioning...a hangover or too many drinks the night before, cigarette smoke, diesel fumes...there are many simple physical triggers for motion sickness and avoiding them all for 2 hours before casting off, and getting a good nights sleep beforehand, can make a huge difference.

Ginger tea, pickled ginger, candied ginger (!), ginger beer...all work the same way, the ginger is an irritant which also opens the capillaries all through the body and increases bloodflow. That's the mechanism by which it acts and apparently opening up bloodflow that way will stop some forms of motion sickness. NASA found it has about the same effectiveness (30%) as the best of seasickness meds, apparently there's about a 1:3 chance of any one solution working for any one person. Ginger capsules are just the simplest way to take a dose of ginger without anything else attached to it.

I've found wrist bands to work, sometimes. Ginger to work sometimes. Relief Band to work better than either--but it needs some fussing with. And then there's drugs. Cinama-something-or-other comes well recommended but when I tried it did nothing. Dramamine just puts me to sleep. Bonine (meclazine) worked a bit better. And Scopalamine is the miracle drug for me. It may make my mouth dry and my eyes sensitive to light, and my thinking a couple of shades fuzzier, but it totally stops seasickness for me. Almost all of the drugs produce some fuzziness or sleepiness in everyone. And Scop has serious possible side effects, not to be ignored. (But, as anyone who has ever been REALLY SEASICK will tell you, given the choice between seasickness and becoming a delusional psychopathic axe murderer...We'll take the drugs!)
If you keep looking at the options, something out there will suit you. Best taken a good hour before you get on the boat, so it gets a chance to get ahead of your system and start working on land.
And best taken experimentally on a casual day at home, so if it knocks you out or worse, you're easily able to get help. Or go to sleep.<G>
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Old 21-08-2006, 19:18   #7
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Puffin,

You'll get used to it. It may take some time but you will get used to it. I was sea sick for the first two years I was at sea. Not all the time, but in the first year when it was rough, I was sick. I gradually got better, being sick for the first few days of a voyage and then settleing down for the rest of the voyage. At eighteen months I thought I was cured but then got a job on a deep sea salvage tug. Different motion, sick all over again but after a couple of months I was ok. We had drugs aboard but never dispensed any as it was considered un-manly, the cure was keeping busy. Of course there was no sympathy, just a lot of humourous digs, and when you looked really green one of the older salts would ask you if you wanted a nice greasy pork chop! It is a terrible feeling but you will get over it. Picture of us towing "Duntroon" somewhere in the Bass Straits.
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Old 22-08-2006, 01:42   #8
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Red face MIF

I have a 2.5 hour motoring voyage to get from South San Diego bay to the ocean - about 12 miles. About 3/4 of the way through, I am sleepy. As soon as I got on the ocean and set sails, I hit the sack and let the boat sail on course. I get up every 20 mins or so to poke my head out. I do this for about two hours. Then I get up and check course, speed, do logs and plot my EP. I however, do not want to do any of this. I just want sleep. I tried the ginger, it helped, however I did'nt know how many ginger snaps to eat and I guess I ate too many. Now just the thought of Ginger makes me sick. I leave the dock with a fair amount of sleep, 7 hours.

I think the aprehension of doing everything myself causes much induced stress and I think that is tiresome. I have noticed that as soon as I return to land, I feel better and I slowly begin to wakeup and feel more motivated. However it takes about two days before I am back to myself. I think that ginger and drugs are not all that helpfull to me because I am not really feeling the nasusea and dizziness that they are meant to treat, just being rocked to sleep I guess.

I am a new sailor. I have sailed on a small lake for about one year. No MIF there. Fast choppy waves do not bother me. Long slow swells are killers. I have been sailing on the ocean about 4 times and I am trying to go every two weeks I have to drive 5.5 hours to get to my boat. I was ons hip for 6 months in the marines. Same symptoms then to. When everbody else was vomiting, I was just sleeping. Took me about a couple of weeks before I become more comfortable at sea than on land. After a while, going on land made me sick and I wanted to go back to sea. The benifit in the Marines was that I was on ship continuously. I am afraid that any tolerance that I buildup over the course of my 24 hours at sea is lost during the two week laps when I return again.
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Old 22-08-2006, 02:11   #9
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Check your exhaust system, long shot but worth a look, more likely motion sickness as above.
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Old 22-08-2006, 11:11   #10
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Dana has a good idea, monoxide from the exhaust system could certainly make you sick and with a 2-hour motor cruise, even if the exhaust system is OK you could be getting sick from exhaust blowing back into the cockpit--especially if you are motoring downwind.

The answers to that are probably a cleaner exhaust (i.e. check for engine timing & combustion problems) or moving the exhaust down to the waterline so it submerges part of the time. Also, if you have any diesel leaking from the fuel system--the stench or diesel in the boat can make many of us sick. For the whole day.

Ginger snaps may be a mixed blessing, there is not a lot of ginger in them (compared to capsules, and I'll take 3-4 capsules as a "dose") and worse, they fill your stomach with the cookies--which may not make your stomach happy. Someone gave me Dramamine and Ritz crackers years ago, a classic recipe for seasickness. Except, they'd given me artificial butter flavored Ritz crackers, and the fat in that disagreed violently with me. Who would have figured...

Seven hours of sleep may be common, but from everything I've heard it counts as marginal sleep deprivation for most people. The advice from the docs is still MORE than eight hours per night, every night, for MOST people. (I knew a camp guard who lived on 4 hours per night--but he was most unusual that way. And I suspect, taking longer siestas every afternoon and just mentioning them.) I'd tell you to cut your sailing short, and let yourself sleep until you can and do wake up bright and cheery eyed without any alarm clock. The technical definition of "enough" sleep is that you wake up WITHOUT any alarm clock, your body will wake when it has had enough.

Going solo at sea and popping your head up every 20 minutes may be the way single-handers have to do it, but it is also legally defined as not keeping a sufficient watch. It's dangerous, especially since some commercial shipping does not keep a bridge watch or radar watch.

Why abuse yourself that way, when sailing is supposed to be a pleasure?

Get some rest, work on the seasickness, and if it is simply a plague...take up golf or skydiving instead.<G> There are some days (hot and humid with light winds and thermal inversions) when I just KNOW I won't be comfortable on a boat. I just refuse to go on a boat on those days, unless there's a Real Damn Good Reason for it.
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Old 22-08-2006, 13:49   #11
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Nah I don't believe you Vasco. It's way too calm for Bass straight. ;-) :-)
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Old 22-08-2006, 13:58   #12
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Hey you Kiwis and Aussies (I know I shouldn't lump you together) should know that boat. It was famous during WW2. We towed her from Melbourne to Hongkong. I think it was 76 days.
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Old 22-08-2006, 14:06   #13
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Good point on the exhaust/CO factor, but probably not the issue for Puffin, since he's had it on different boats at different times.

I would add, though, that it would be a good idea to get a medical exam by an ENT. Many vestibular problems are actually the result of bacterial or viral infections and they can definitely wreck havoc. Be forewarned, though, the test they run you through to see if you have it -- if you do, your head will spin like it never has before! You will swear it is about to pop off.

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Old 22-08-2006, 14:36   #14
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Puffin,

I've never heard of the term MIF, but if it's what the old salts call the "effects of the salt air" then I know it well. As you already described the first part of a voyage is very fatiguing, but once you "get your sea-legs" it's not all that tiring. This has absolutely nothing to do with sea-sickness, so the remedies mentioned above would have little effect. If you think about when small children learn to walk, they're ungainly and uncoordinated - and it takes a lot of concentration and effort on their part to just stand, let alone walk. Those first few steps are very fatiguing for them as well. As they grow and become accustomed to walking, their bodies become much more efficient at using their muscles to accomplish the tasks of standing and walking and it becomes second-nature. When you step off from solid ground onto your constantly moving boat, you're stepping back into your baby shoes in a way. Whether you're standing or even sitting, you're constantly balancing and rebalancing yourself - the muscles in your legs, arms and torso are constantly tensing and releasing - because you have a highly-developed sense of balance, this is mostly imperceptible, but the effect is like a continuous work-out that doesn't stop. Only until your body has relearned how to walk/sit/stand at sea (sea-legs) does it become efficient enough that the fatigue subsides.

How to cope - you have to fuel the body. If you're on a low-carb diet, stop now. You know how elite athletes "carbo-load" before a big event; you have to do the same. Eat well and don't skip breakfast; have plenty of protein and complex carbs. Take a bag of trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) and snack on it every chance you get. Also caffeine can be your friend. Take a thermos of coffee, but don't chug it down all at once - spread it out over the first few hours to help you over the initial fatigue. Since you're driving 5.5 hours to your boat, you might consider having a sleep before you slip, then you'd be better rested initially.
Also, I don't want to suggest you're not fit, as even the fittest people are affected by this type of fatigue, but if you have a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to increase your fitness level. It won't stop the fatigue, but it may make it easier to cope.

Last point, I agree with hellosailer about solosailing. Nothing wrong with sailing by yourself for short stints, where you can keep a lookout, but going to bed and letting the boat take the watch - personally I think that's foolhardy and illegal. I get the point that you have a long drive, so you want to pack as much sailing into your trip as possible, but you aren't doing any sailing while you're sleeping, so you might as well sleep ashore and shorten your sail to 18 hours.

Cheers,

Kevin
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Old 22-08-2006, 23:42   #15
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I get sea sick, but it has to be fairly bad before it kicks in. However, about 4 times in my boating life, I've gotten on board and about an hour into the cruise, I can't keep my eyes open to save a soul.

We modern types are under more stress than we realize, and stressors can affect us of which we are not aware of. When many "civy" types go to monasteries to meditate for a week or so, working with a monk spiritual adviser, a common problem is for the first 24 hours all you can do is sleep. What happens is that you have slowed your body down so that the underlying stressors send a message to your body that you are tired. By about day two in the monastery, you're good to go; you've slept the stress out of your body.

I think the same thing happens to me on a boat. I will have been on the "go" for a while and when I get to the boat, the body winds down and the underlying stress manifests itself in tiredness. Fortunately, I'm not single handing a boat so what I do is apologies to everyone and go down for about an hour and a half nap and wake up feeling great.
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