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Coolness in May

As I begin writing this article, I cannot believe that it has been over seven years since I wrote my last one. Time for me to get to work.

The members of SCRAP decided to assemble at the shore of Lake Prado on an unusually cool May morning with an expected high of only 67 degrees. Possible rain showers in the late morniing were forecasted and it was quite dark with the low clouds surrounding us. Ty and I arrived shortly after the Graybill's and they had already begun to set up under one of the trees due to the possibility of rain. After setting up the site for the event, Ty and I set up our table at the usual place but a little more under the tree than normal. This was due to Ty complaining that, by the afternoon, I was still in the shade but he was in the full sun. I still don't see a problem with this situation.

We had two late cancellations so we expected seven captains to arrive. The last person to arrive was Matt, as per normal. I had just said, "Where is Matt?" about 30 seconds before he arrived which is also normal. Andy put on his waders and dragged to the side some reed islands that had drifted across the lake right into the middle of our battle location. We also noticed that the reeds had recovered somewhat but that our battling location was much larger than it had been before the clean up that occurred last year.

The teams, after everyone arrived, broke down as follows with Ty and David being Admirals as they were in the biggest ships:

Team Sinkers

Captain                 Ship                   Units    Speed
=============================================================
David Breshears         USS North Carolina       6        24
Bob Graybill            SMS Nassau               4        28
Chris Graybill          RN Attilio Regolo        1.5      21
Andy Heughins           USS Chicago              3        23
=============================================================

Team Hook Line

Captain                 Ship                   Units   Speed
=============================================================
Ty Siouxpancic          HMS Warspite             5.5      26
Brian Eliassen          USS Chester              3        23
Matt Wilson             USS Brooklyn             3        23
=============================================================

AM Battle - Sortie #1

Matt's Brooklyn hadn't been on the water for over two years but he insisted it was working perfectly on the bench. However, when he arrived, the Curse of Steve descended upon the ship and it was non-functional. Matt was asking for assistance so I waddled (thanks Todd) over to help effect some lakeside soldering assistance. The primary negative wire bus was being resoldered with some difficulty but we managed to get it working. Then he tested it. First the motors were working but the pump was dead. Then he got the pump working and the motors were now dead. He finally got it all working and was getting ready to launch when he tested it one more time...yep, you guessed it, it wasn't working. So Matt was going to be coming into the first sortie a little late.

The sortie began like most sorties for the Chester, with me far away from the shoreline and a decision as to who I was going to shoot. Since it was effectively four versus two at this point with my team being the two, I expected an aggressive push by the Sinkers. However, at the beginning of battle, Chris's Attilio Regolo and Andy's Chicago were not near me so I decided I'd go shoot them. Almost immediately, there was a loud exchange of shots to my right near shore and I saw Ty's Warspite and David's North Carolina in a massive sidemount exchange. Bob's Nassau was trying to keep up to aid David and eventually arrived but not before the North Carolina's pump started spurting water. The damage looked minimal but sidemounts are not fun near a cruiser so I decided to stay away from the bigger ships and concentrate on the cruisers.

About this point, Chris decided that he wanted to shoot at me so I saw the Regolo backing down. I kicked my rudder over and we were stern to stern for at least three minutes with a minimal of shooting. I then noticed that Andy was lining up on Ty and knowing he was busy with the North Carolina and Nassau, I disengaged from the Regolo and moved to deflect the Chicago. I managed to get lined up and unloaded quite a few salvos into the bow of the Chicago. Andy left and circled around which was a great way to avoid me as we were the same speed. At this point, I noticed that Chris had brought the Regolo into the large furball and was shooting at Ty. <sigh> I suppose I should have expected Ty to be the main target.

At this point, Matt entered the sortie as he had the Brooklyn working. No one had sunk so it didn't unbalance anything and I welcomed another fleet mate so someone else could be a target. Then he realized he forgot to unpin his cannons. Remember this point for the future. He quickly came to shore and unpinned his cannons.

Once the Brooklyn had working cannons, Matt concentrated on the Nassau, Chicago and North Carolina. After two minutes, he was out of ammo and on five. I took shots as they arrived and eventually ran out of ammo myself so I also went on five. After a couple more minutes, the Regolo was out of ammo as well and went on two.

We noticed the North Carolina was getting low in the water and sure enough, it eventually went down. I was watching David retrieve his ship when I heard, "Oh no!" and noticed the bow of the Chicago sticking out of the water. Andy also headed out to retrieve his stricken ship. I have no idea why it sank but when I asked if the pump was working, he said it was but after changing directions, the stern of the ship just settled beneath the waves. With that information, I suspect a balance issue was the cause. Now, it bears mentioning that Andy was one of the original three members who attended the very first SCRAP event back in December 1997. He had a Houston hull, I had a Houston hull and another fellow had a completed Lutzow. That was the original SCRAP group. Both of those Houston hulls were on the water for this battle and it was the debut sortie for Andy's Chicago which was a record 19 year build to completion. The Chester took 17 years to complete so I happily pass on the shame, I mean award for the longest ship build in SCRAP.

With the North Carolina and the Chicago sunk, most people were out of ammo by this point except for the Nassau which continued to pursue the Warspite until he too finally ran out of ammo. As no one was pumping excessively, everyone pulled their ships off so we could count the sinkers and get them back on the water for the second sortie. After counting up the damage, the result were:

Team Sinkers

Captain                 Ship                   A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
============================================================================
David Breshears         USS North Carolina    38  10   7    0   1800    2780
Andy Heughins           USS Chicago           15   5   3    0    900    1325
============================================================================
Total                                                                   4105

Team Hook Line: No Sinks

In the pit area, Ty kept finding black anodized BBs in his ship which were being used by Chris in the Regolo. Ty then complained that he was going to sink in the second sortie and that I needed to keep Chris and the Attilio Regolo away from him. I asked if he was kidding and he told me to consider it a command from the Admiral of the fleet. So I said that if he wanted me to keep the Regolo busy, I would do so.

AM Battle - Sortie #2

So I knew exactly what I was supposed to do for the second sortie and I set about doing so immediately. Within moments of the sortie starting, I heard Matt exclaim, "Damn it, my cannons are still pinned again." so he unpinned his cannons, relaunched and then screamed that his bottle was also off. Yep, back to shore to turn his bottle on and he was finally out there shooting. Oh, remember this for the future as well.

So there I was, stern to stern with the Regolo. Minutes passed with little exchange of gunfire. The Regolo is much faster than the Chester and much more maneuverable. Being at a significant disadvantage, I do what I always do...I wait for the opposing captain to make a mistake. Chris did a great job with a very determined and experienced captain dogging him but he eventually made that mistake. I finally had a good angle on him and I took advantage of it. His pump immediately started and he ran. I pursued. He was listing severely and I continued to pursue him as he dodged around other ships who were firing on each other. Eventually, he pointed his bow straight into the reeds and went right in. The other ships on his fleet saw that the Regolo was in a very bad state and came to his defense. Despite this, I continued to try to get an angle on him and paid for it by sailing behind the triple sterns of the North Carolina more than once which contributed greatly to my damage total. Hey, my Admiral wanted that little ship to leave him alone so that's what I was going to do. Needless to say, this defense kept me from backing down on the Regolo and he survived his two minutes without sinking.

I put my remaining BBs into the bow of the North Carolina and called five. I noticed the Chicago sitting next to me and I mentioned to Andy, "Hey, you're going to survive your first sortie. Congratulations." He asked if that means he has now officially battled the Chicago and I told him it most certainly qualified. He looked extremely happy about that. No one else sank, not even Ty, but there were some good pump streams but no one was close to sinking. All the ships were counted and the AM battle totals were:

Team Sinkers

Captain                 Ship                   A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
============================================================================
David Breshears         USS North Carolina    45  11   7    0   1800    2875
Bob Graybill            SMS Nassau            37   3   2    0      0     545
Chris Graybill          RN Attilio Regolo     16   2   2    0      0     310
Andy Heughins           USS Chicago           31   5   4    0    900    1535
============================================================================
Total                                                                   5265

Team Hook Line: No Sinks

Captain                 Ship                   A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
============================================================================
Ty Siouxpancic          HMS Warspite         112   8   3    0      0    1470
Brian Eliassen          USS Chester           22   5   2    0      0     445
Matt Wilson             USS Brooklyn           6   1   1    0      0     135
============================================================================
Total                                                                   2050

A bit more lopsided than I expected but if you take away the sinks, which occurred with little damage, it's much closer than it looks with a separation of only 515 points. Chris also stated that the Regolo was having rudder issues and they were unable to resolve them for the second battle so he was going to switch ships. Andy had to leave early and we kept the same teams so the fleets looked like the following for the afternoon battle:

Team Sinkers

Captain                 Ship                   Units    Speed
=============================================================
David Breshears         USS North Carolina       6        24
Bob Graybill            SMS Nassau               4        28
Chris Graybill          RN Sciopone Africano     1.5      21
=============================================================

Team Hook Line

Captain                 Ship                   Units   Speed
=============================================================
Ty Siouxpancic          HMS Warspite             5.5      26
Brian Eliassen          USS Chester              3        23
Matt Wilson             USS Brooklyn             3        23
=============================================================

PM Battle - Sortie #1

The third sortie for the day almost began like all of the other sorties. Yep, you're right, Matt forgot to unpin his cannons so he ran the ship back to shore while the countdown to start was underway. Needless to say, he was pulling pins as quickly as he could. Ty asked me to keep the Sciopone Africano that Chris was now captaining off him so I took this as my primary task for the sortie. We were under a very dark cloud and it was difficult to get depth perception as there were no shadows. It was eerie and I expected the rain to start at any moment. It didn't rain on us but the sortie was not very productive for the ships battling away from shore.

After what seemed like twenty minutes, almost everyone was out of ammo except for Ty who was trying to catch the North Carolina. He yelled, "Brian, stop him!" but I was no where near the battle. He thought Matt's Brooklyn was my ship so Matt started giggling. Note I said started. I then said, "Do you really want me to stop him?" and my Admiral answered in the affirmative. "Okay, I'll stop him." At this, Matt started laughing. A real good laugh at this point. I sailed around the North Carolina and put my poor Chester right in front of him and took the full ram. I didn't call it but I did stop him. Matt started laughing even more. At this point, Ty moved in and started pounding the North Carolina with his haymaker. Matt was laughing so hard due to this event that he was almost on the ground and actually started to choke. So I kept the North Carolina from getting away, Matt was in hysterics, Ty was happy and out of ammo, David wasn't so happy about being shot and Bob was watching the spectacle and didn't notice that the Nassau has sailed into the reeds. I mentioned this to him and he tried to back it out but the props were fouled. He yelled, "Christopher!" and that's when I started to laugh. In the past, when Chris was much smaller, grandpa Bob always did ship retrieval. Well, now that Chris was taller than grandpa, those days are over. Chris did mention that the water was quite nice which made sense since it was May despite the day's cool weather. No one sank or appeared to even be close so we pulled the ships out of the water and prepared for the second sortie of the afternoon.

In the pits, it was discovered that the Nassau was fouled by fishing line. An all too common problem for the captains of SCRAP. Bob was able to clear it but it did require a knife to cut it away.

PM Battle - Sortie #2

All of the ships returned to the water and Ty yelled out, "Matt, did you unpin your cannons?" Matt answered that he had so we began the second sortie of the afternoon. Go ahead and guess what happens next. No really, go ahead. You probably know the answer but if not, I'll wait, just guess. Yep, you got it. Matt yelled out, "I forgot to turn on my bottle!" and I yelled out "Of course you did." at which point Matt started laughing and was man-in-the-water to turn his bottle on. The problem was, when he went to sail away from shore, his props fouled with dead reeds and he called 30-second moss. This wouldn't have been an issue except that the Brooklyn was right in the middle of the enemy fleet. Yep. A cacophony of cannons were firing and I glanced over to see the Brooklyn in a virtual hail of BB splashes. After 30 seconds, he went out and demossed it.

He sailed away from the near disaster and I was busy with the Africano. After a few minutes, I found myself bow to shore and backing down on the North Carolina in tandem with the Brooklyn off my starboard side. It was perfectly synchronized despite no plan to do so on our part and I yelled out, "Cruisers backing down!" At the same moment, both the Brooklyn and Chester started a stern barrage on the starboard bow area of the North Carolina. It was an amazing sound and Matt has laughing again. David was yelling and trying to move away but it was too late. The damage had been done. Matt and I broke off and went in separate directions with Matt yelling, "That was awesome!" over and over again. I returned to the Africano. About a minute later, someone yelled, "He's going down." and I glanced over to see the North Carolina sinking to the bottom. As David waded out to get his ship, I asked him why he sank and he said he had turned to starboard and the bow of his ship dipped, filled with water and never recovered. Later, in the pits, the bow starboard area of his ship was thoroughly shredded.

Everyone except Ty was out of ammo and he asked for help catching the Nassau. Stopping something slower than you with a much better turning radius is nigh impossible but I did manage to slow him down a couple of times so Ty could get some shots off. But it was clear that we were not going to be able to continue and the cruisers five minutes were both up so we took all the ships off the water. The second battle totals were:

Team Sinkers

Captain                 Ship                   A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
============================================================================
David Breshears         USS North Carolina    42   0   5    0   1800    2470
Bob Graybill            SMS Nassau            45   6   3    0      0     750
Chris Graybill          RN Sciopone Africano   8   1   0    0      0     105
============================================================================
Total                                                                   3325

Team Hook Line: No Sinks

Captain                 Ship                   A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
============================================================================
Ty Siouxpancic          HMS Warspite          85   3  10    0      0    1425
Brian Eliassen          USS Chester            3   0   0    0      0      30
Matt Wilson             USS Brooklyn          44   2   2    0      0     135
============================================================================
Total                                                                   2045

What's amazing about the second battle is that if the North Carolina had not sunk, Team Sinkers would have won by 520 points. Again, a very close battle.

So everyone packed up and headed out. Everyone agreed that it was one of the most enjoyable battles we've ever had. The weather was perfect with cool temperatures, no rain, minimal sun and wind. Moss wasn't a problem and the battling area was much larger than we've had in the past due to recent storms which have removed a lot of the dead reed debris. Overall, it was just coolness.