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Oracle 1031 error when starting DB


We are experiencing a very strange Oracle issue. We are installing new instances on Oracle on Windows 2008 (2008 new to us). When we attempt to logon to Oracle sqlplus /nolog, connect /as sysdb, startup, we are greeted by and ora-01031 -- which is usually a fairly easy fix. We found that when we enter 'startup' and the second time, we get the same error -1031. But, when we do startup a third time, the db starts up normally. I having problems finding oracle tools/traces/logs that log before the db is started. I have ran a network sniffer, and absolutely nothing was happening (network wise) after startup command is issued. The DB is stable at this point. And in fact we can do anything during this session. If we log off of the server and then back on, the connection is strange again and we have to enter commands three times again before we get a correct response. This is a problem during sap install as the sapinst is logging off and on through its script and starting and stopping the db. Any help/response/anything would be greatly appreciated.


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