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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of the worst things you can do is sail without proper rest or sleep. Making proper decisions is difficult and even simple maths are difficult. This can lead to all sorts of problems.

Having said that there are times when due to boat problems, inclement weather or being short-handed you are awake far longer than you want or anticipated.

This has happened a couple of times to me and I found that I began to have hallucinations. It was really weird watching a Ninja, sword over his back creeping around the deck especially as he didn't have a life jacket on and conditions were not good. Then there was the oil rig who began sailing towards me.

I just wondered what was the longest you had stayed awake during sailing and if anyone else had hallucinations.
 

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One particularly ugly voyage from Nova Scotia to Toronto on a corporate yacht, on a schedule, comes to mind. Pea soup fog as thick as any I'd ever seen on the Bay, had me spending all my time watching the radar (pre-GPS) and giving courses to the helmsman.
Disembodied voices from on high, in the locks, giving instructions to a vessel completely hidden from their view, except for the masthead, was probably just as eerie to them as it was to us.
Fortunately, my surgeon father had supplied me with the perfect drug for just this sort of situation. I don't remember hallucinations, though, at least no ninjas.
 

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I never experienced them even when exhausted however being on long voyages for months at a time I had really HORNY dreams...

ajajajajajajajajajajajajajaj

ajajajajajaja
 

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I remember coming into P-Town on a foggy morning after a night race and seeing a pirate ship in the fog.
 

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After sailing through thick fog all day, when I was comming up to my destination the lights from the city looked like they were moving mast me, I panicked for a moment thinking it was another ship approaching! Then I shook my head and snapped out of it!
 

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Doesn't necessarily take all that long.. Traveling south down the WA/OR coast with a crew of three - shortly down to two when one took badly to even a little bit of weather. That left two of us covering watches, neither accustomed to the regimen yet.

On about the third evening watch, little real sleep since departure I was on watch alone in the deepening dusk. Pleasant conditions, actually, and I was close to dozing off when I realized I was conversing with the someone on deck.. turn out to be the trysail bag tied to the base of the mast.:eek:
 
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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Doesn't necessarily take all that long.. Traveling south down the WA/OR coast with a crew of three - shortly down to two when one took badly to even a little bit of weather. That left two of us covering watches, neither accustomed to the regimen yet.

On about the third evening watch, little real sleep since departure I was on watch alone in the deepening dusk. Pleasant conditions, actually, and I was close to dozing off when I realized I was conversing with the someone on deck.. turn out to be the trysail bag tied to the base of the mast.:eek:
That isn't really a problem unless the bag is responding. ;)
 
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Hallucinations happen not just out of lack of sleep. Being alone for a long time is enough for a lot of folks to have them. Sometimes these hallucinations are important warnings for us. You need to pay attention o them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Reading Joshua Slocums book it was fascinating to see him going to sleep and leaving the helming to a complete stranger only later to find it was a illusion.
 

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About day three of a seven day run I started to hear all kinds of things. It was really just the normal squeaks and rattles of a boat. But my mind was trying hard to make an association.

I did have hallucinations once, driving. I had been up working for about 48 hours and was trying to get home when I had to break for a circus train in a corn field. Weird!
 

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When driving they call it highway hypnosis. I had it happen on the road, it was snowing and the snow coming up over the hood reflecting the light from the headlights looked just like Star Trek going into warp speed. I snapped out of it going about 95 and three exits past the one I wanted to get off and in close to a foot of snow not very safe. I had been up for a couple of days studying for exams. Good thing I was young and invincible back then. I am sure if it happened to me now I would end up in a tree.

Never happened on a boat, but I have just really day sailed.
 

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During a 300 mile singlehanded race last year my alternator went out so I lost battery charging, meaning that I couldn't use the autopilot, meaning that I had to hand steer and couldn't nap. During the third night I hallucinated- there was a full moon shining across the water silhouetting the waves. All I could see were swimming cows- thousands of them. I sailed through swimming cows for hours. I knew I was hallucinating, and I knew it was a result of sleep deprivation. Despite knowing exactly what was happening, I still saw the swimming cows. Once the sun came up, the hallucinations stopped.
Since then I've read a study theorizing that during sleep, little channels open in the brain to flush out all the neurotransmitters that are floating around in the brain.
Now that I know what happened, I'm sure that the next time this happens, I'll still see the swimming cows, but at least I'll know why it's happening.
 

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With chronic severe or prolonged acute sleep deprivation your adenosine levels build up. This results into inescapable sleep drive. The end result is "micro sleeps". There is also increased "pressure" to have stageR "REM" sleep and stage3 slow wave sleep. With persistent sleep deprivation beyond just having micro sleeps the strict brain stem switches that allow you to normally be asleep or awake but not both start to malfunction. Normally no features of sleep intrude into wake. What you are interpreting as hallucinations are also seen in narcolepsy( hynognogic hallucinations) and other primary sleep disorders. Given majority of dreams are unpleasant and one of the main function of dreaming is work through emotional and other memories chronic sleep deprivation presents significant health risks of this and other reasons.
Realize sleep deprivation is considered torture and internationally illegal. All animals will become hyperpyrexic and die.
 

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Some years ago on a run from Tampa Bay to Key West, normally about 30 hours for us, we had particularly crappy weather that was difficult for my (much) better half to deal with so I remained at the helm myself. Early the next AM, as we were approaching Smith Shoal Light, somewhat before sun-up, I kept imagining islands close at hand to port although I knew darned well there were none there. Never the less, I found myself repeatedly edging to starboard and glancing nervously over my left shoulder until the sun came up and burned the sea haze off. We finally made it into the Galleon Marina by about noon and I promptly fell into our berth and slept for 10 hours!

Being tired, or exceptionally tired, really can have serious consequences.

FWIW...
 

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Sleep is an obligate function. Beyond effects on cognition and mood it impacts all your hormonal releases and immune functions. Some say, I believe with good reason, solo sailors are degrading their long term health by that activity if measures to lessen impact are not undertaken. In the above post so called " recovery sleep" is alluded to. There is a rebound in REM the first night and slow wave sleep the second in young males. In older males who have less REM to begin with both rebound the first night. Beware of the risks of when even recovery sleep occurs of waking with " sleep drunkeness". Some believe the poor decisions people make after the storm has passed and a brief opportunity for sleep has occurred reflects this occurrence.
I set my watches and those of crew in response to their health and sleep. Sticking to a inviolate schedule is potentially dangerous.
 

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I have never had anything like this happen on the boat, although sometimes staying awake for long periods. Perhaps it's because I make a point of getting plenty of rest beforehand and will take 20 min. sleep breaks using a timer if I start to feel drowsy. Back many years ago, while driving, I did doze off and wake up to "see" the back of an oil truck right in front of me. I jumped on the brakes and skidded to a stop...there was no truck, no traffic whatsoever late at night. I have experienced the feeling, as svHylyte, of land where there is no land....so did Ahab:)
 

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Last year while herding my cattle from Chicago north to Canada about the third night out we were riding along side the swimming cows and thought surely there was a sailboat on a port tack right in the middle of the herd !...what a nut-job don't people know you just can't sail in a cattle drive or roller skate in a buffalo herd ?
 

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Thanks for the post. I feel slightly more normal in this crowd. At the time, I was a competent daysail skipper in my own right. The "captain" of this particular trip set the watch schedule and I got the 1-4 solo watch. There was absolutely no wind and land was nowhere in sight. All I had to keep me company was the drone of the diesel engine, until I had a rather large pirate ship turn and start firing it's broadside cannons at me. Don't know how, but somehow we were never hit.

I learned a few things that night. It is fully feasible to have a double handed watch crew at all times with the appropriate schedule for a boat of three people. Always were the pfd and tether at night. Never let pride put yourself and the rest of the crew at risk. You are no less of a sailor when you have to wake someone up to tell them you are too tired to function competently.
 
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