Welcome to Steve's Shipyard



by Steve Reichenbach



The pollen laid heavy in the air this spring, as ships from around the midwest converged in Springfield, Missouri for the Spring 99 Ozarks BB Fest. Battlers staying at the motel were treated to a Yamato, Lutzow, and Gneisenau show in the pool area. It turned out that the motel pool was the only place the AXIS could truly say they ruled the waters.

After a couple of hours of mingling around the pool, the crew went out to eat Chinese food. Dinner was good, and the conversation was warm. Folks traded stories, and photos, and the new faces got to meet the experienced folks who had also driven into Springfield. I had to keep my sunglasses on, as my eye had turned blood red and badly swollen from some wierd allergy. I guess I'm allergic to May Missouri air!?!

I hit the rack early, hoping that extra sleep would help my allergies to go away. When I woke up, my eye still looked terrible, so I sent my wife on a drug mission. Everyone pulled out of the motel by 8am, except for me, Chris Groissant, Chris Pearce, and Jim Pate. When my wife came back with allergy flavored eye drops, we got some quick breakfast, and then followed the Colorado license plate of Chris Groissant all the way to Ritter Springs City Park.

While setting up my table, I met lots of new faces, most of whom asked if I was going to keep a set of SOC float planes mounted to my ship during the battle. In fact, after a admirals meeting, the CD announced a special award would be given to anyone who could remove both planes from my ship using their gunneryskills. With about a four-to-one majority of allied ships, we once again battled yellow vs blue.

The admirals were Chris Pearce(blue) and Andy Ray(yellow). The admirals sorted out the 20-odd participants, and battle was called for at 10:30am. Unfortunately, my ship was still in the docks, sorting out a gun problem in the HOUSTON. About half-way through the first battle, I snuck my un-tweaked ship into the waters, and started by sneaking up on Jamie Foster. Her frenchy light cruiser fired (whap whap whap), and my guns fired (plop plop) as the bbs gently hit the water a few inches from my boat. Ugghh! Typical rookie!

After calling five, my Houston tangled with the CD's I-boat. I took several sidemount shots, before getting away. I smartly ran into a North Carolina (oops) which helped ventilate my ship above thewaterline before my five ran out.

During the second sortie, my Houston did a bit better. With my guns tweaked, I was able to play cat-and-mouse with Kevin Bray's Lutzow. Kevin really did well with his ship, and definitely took the least damage of any cruiser. His cruiser would cunningly sneak stern-first into the furball, take a few shots, and then dart away without taking any damage. After expending my rounds, I was able to bring my ship in,surviving the first battle!

The second battle started with a rookie strategy bull session, and ended very very quickly. Kevin Bray was reassigned to the Blue team, and so Kevin Hovis and Kevin Bray and I talked cruiser tactics. We decided who we wanted to sink, and agreed to surround our victim and take them down.

As battle was called, Kevin Hovis brought his St. Louis next to my Houston, and we steamed into battle.... where TWO NORTH CAROLINAS steamed into us. In about 30 seconds, both cruisers were being shot at. Kevin took several stern and sidemount shots, but got away, while I took a ram (that I didn't call) that knocked my ship into a very bad list to starport. As my ship sat there listing, I took several stern shots below the waterline, and very slowly my ship filled with water and sank.

While drying out my receiver, I watched the yellow team beat up on the blue team. At the end of the day, it was blue ahead by about 1000 points, and two SOC float planes undamaged on my HOUSTON.

Late into the night, the rookies assembled in Bryan Finster's room to work on reviving my radio box. What I thought was a fried receiver turned out to be drained transmitter batteries, a bad servo extension wire, and two wet servos. Terry Keef visited for a long time, helping me troubleshoot my radio box woes (thanks, Terry!) Later, I was able to get a new servo from Kevin Bray, another servo from Bryan Finster (battling with me in spirit) and a extension from Robert Rucker (I didn't know you could get 3-foot longservo extensions!)

Bryan's allergy medicine kicked in about 11pm, but I was up till midnite getting the Gneisenau (aka guzunthite) ready for battle. I put the Houston's radio box, 2 guns, and CO2 stuff into the big 5 unit ship. Everyone at the lake kept asking if I was really going to put my 5 unit ship into the water... with 1 pump and 2 guns. As we all know, I did, and I sank!

The GNEISENAU was the first ship on the water, as everyone was unsure what would happen while it rained during the early morning hours. I decided that with so many people standing around, it might be a good time to get some free advice. Sure enough, after getting the Scharnhorst-class ship onto the water, advice started to rain down on me. Before the first sortie, I had a new motor for my ship (thanks, Dave Au) and my ship was making 24 second speed!

Because many people had decided to leave Saturday night, it was decided to pick new teams for Sunday battle. The two most vocal rookies, Kevin Bray and myself, were selected. Being an admiral opens your eyes to lots of things.... including the fact it is more paperwork than fun, and that it is important for the admiral to know the skill level of the people at the battle. Kevin or I made a few bad picks, as the score was very lopsided in favor of blue.

My Gneisenau was almost immediately mossed up, and took a lot of damage in 30 seconds. The hounds came as soon as I called my 30 second moss. As I lifted my ship out to clear the moss from the prop, I took a few more hits on shore. (Note: take a few more steps away from the shore when clearing moss!)

As soon as my big target returned to battle, it was surrounded by the enemy blue fleet. As Jim Pate's NC sailed by, I turned for a stern shot at his bow, and heard my Gneisenau break balsa in anger for the first time! Fearing retaliation, I ran, and was pursued by several ships. The HARUNA eventually chased me from the docks around the south side of the pond, and when I ran out of ocean, I was punished with sidemounts. By the time I got back to the dock area, Jim Pate brought in his NC to finish me off. A fuse burned out with a minute and 30 seconds left on my five, and with 45 seconds left I sank with a heavy list to starport, and over120 holes.

After drying out my newly baptised ship, I was able to watch the second sortie. By the end of the first battle, there were four or five blue ships, all against Chris Pearce. It was a rare opportunity to see Chris Pearce's mighty NC sink. It was a very pretty sink, as his ship went stern first into the deep, with the bow rising up into the air, and thensliding below the waves.

Andy Ray threw his transmitter down at the ground, and ran into the water after Chris' ship (nice guy), and then someone yelled "there goes the Maryland!" as Andy's ship sank in the middle of the pond! Andy thought I had the controls, so I waded out into the very cold deep water. Your feet sink at least a foot into the silt out there, you know! I got all of the Maryland, except for one mangled turret cover, back to shore, where it took Andy quite a while to get the ship put back together. Andy just shook his head, and mumbled something about "three for three", when askedhow he was doing.

The sun came out, and it was a beautiful photo-op as we got all the ships on the water for the last battle of the day. Somehow, I allowed my Gniesenau to get tangled up close to the docks again, with rudder troubles, five out of control. I was soon pinned against the shore by Andy Ray's Maryland and the Haruna of Chris Au.

Bob Eakin came along with his friendly NC and shot up the Haruna. James Foster came in with his cute little Sverge and started making a swiss cheese out of Bob's NC. Chris Pearce brought his friendly NC along, and with Bob on one side and Chris on the other, I felt very safe. With this kind of support, I easily lasted out my first sortie,without a sink.

During the last sortie of the day, My ship sailed out onto the pond using thrust from the bilge pump. My rudders locked up again, and I went five-out-of-control, again. Like a rookie, I somehow managed to get myself pinned up against the shore and the dock again, and this time took enough damage that my stern sank, after my five was up, seconds before I was able to retrieve my ship. While taking my ship to shore, I overheard someone shouting "Sink The Maryland!" Sure enough, Andy Ray's well-patched Maryland sank moments later, and Andy announced he was "four for four". Andy and I each had taken over 100 holes during each of the Sunday battles.

The scores were tallied, and awards given out to the participants. My SOC-equipped HOUSTON took best of scale, and Andy Ray took the honors for most mangledship. As Bryan Finster and I returned to Texas, we reflected on what was a very busy, fun, and pollen-filled weekend. While we missed seeing a lot of the folks who couldn't come on the holiday weekend, we did meet a lot of great people who are a part of this magnificient hobby. Springfield is a great location for battle, as all the ships were easily recovered. Thanks to Steve Milholland for the great weekend of battle!

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