10 Things I Learned at my First NATS
- Just go
You have to go to NATS. If you have never been there you just can’t understand how much fun it is. I wanted to go to NATS as soon as I went to my first battle. But, after I had my ship built and went to some local battles I found out that I needed to work on my ship some more. That and my 1st child was born around NATS time so I could not go to the 2001 NATS. In the spring of 2002 it looked like no one from the local club was going to make it. But, I didn’t care I was going. Driving 20+ hours by myself was not fun but the rest of the week was great.
- Bring everything
I asked Ron & Larry what I would need for NATS. Everything, was the answer. You never know what is going to break or what someone else might need. As I looked around the pits I saw that all of the captains had moved their entire garage with them. Fortunately for me just about everything worked all week and one box of stuff never made it out of the car.
- Talk to everyone
I am a pretty out going person and did not think I would have trouble talking to people. The only thing that worried me was as the “New guy” that nobody knows I would have to start all of the conversations and maybe looked on as pushy or nosy. But, this group is very friendly and includes new people into the group very well. As soon as I got out of my car at the hotel Tom Jass (He must have seen me stretching) asked if I was one of those “Crazy ship guys”. We had a little chat and headed to the rooms. As I was unloading my car Kevin Bray introduced himself, this made me feel real comfortable being at NATS.
- The battles are huge
I was in the first battle on Monday and was in shock at how much stuff was going on at one time. The local battles I have been at have no more than 8 ships on the water, this was very different. It took until Tuesday for me to feel comfortable and Thursday before I felt good about being on the water. I can see how a rookie with a battleship would be in serious trouble.
- Be patient
Tuesday morning I told Brain Lamb that I had a bad feeling about today, that I was going to sink. I woke up late, left the hotel without my controller (Did not get far before I turned around) made it to the pond and had forgotten my video camera. Back to the hotel for that, not a good morning. Everything was ok until campaign. I was in the second campaign and could not wait to get going. As soon as battle started I headed for the targets, were I found Jeff Lide. I was told that battleships don’t shoot too much at cruisers in campaign (Right!) and started to hit targets. I knocked down 1, missed, 2 in a row, missed, 3 in a row, then I was rammed by a VDT. My ship almost sank on the way in with the large “Door” in its side. Since I wanted to get back on the water right away I took out my duck tape and patched up the hole (Standard practice locally). Jeff must have smelled the blood and chased me around until the tape started to peel off and down she went, Doh! My campaign was over in 10 minuets because I did not take time to fix my ship the right way.
- Bow guns suck
I read online that the best way to set up a cruiser was with duel sterns, after I had a bow & stern gun set up. But the bow gun seamed to work alright locally. We fight in a small pond so I can usually wait for someone to make a turn and hit them from a safe distance. Not at NATS. I think the only time I hit anyone with my bow gun was when a Yamato pulled in front of me and did not move. I hit him with just about every shot and I don’t think he noticed at all. That was 5 seconds of fun, but most of the week I was looking for bow shots that I could not find. If I did find them I maybe hit 1 out of 4.
- Best 5 / Worst 5
Kevin Bray told me and a few others about this Monday night at dinner. We went around the table and told everyone our best and worst 5 seconds during the day. It was a great way to find out about things that happened during the day from other people. Some days there was a good battle story or how fellow battlers helped out each other during the day. I looked forward to the 5 & 5 every night. It was also nice to see the 5 & 5 on the e-mailing list after NATS.
- Don’t pick on the Vets
At the end of the Thursday campaign I had a full load of BB’s, needed something to shoot at and found Jeff Lide. It was time for a little revenge for the Tuesday sink. Jeff was sitting still talking to someone on shore and I started hitting him with my bow gun. Jeff yells “Hey the Captain is trying to take a dip in the pool and you go and start shooting at him.” With this the chase, and my most memorable part of NATS, began. My Cruiser was on her 5th campaign sortie and the batteries were getting weak so Jeff was easily able to run me down very easily. I tried running under the bridge only to find Charlie’s Yamato. They managed to pin me next to the wall and hit me pretty hard. I made it out of there and sat next to Chris Grossaint and Dana Graham this gave me some much needed time to pump out. But Jeff and Charlie were not done and hit me again before I could get up to (Slower) speed. This is when I used the last of my stern BB’s and called 5. The stepped deck of my cruiser was now just about under the water and I thought I would be taking a swim. Remembering the wisdom of Curly I stopped and let the ship pump. I’m not sure were my pursuers were but I could see the back end of my ship starting to rise out of the water. Back came Jeff and Charley to chase me for the rest of my 5. I made it off my 5 without any more close calls. After the battle I counted up my damage and had more holes then the rest of the week total.
- Vets have problems too
I thought only rookie ships broke down all the time. I was surprised to see a lot of vets have problems with all kinds of things. It kind of made me feel better that other people can’t get everything to work at one time either. I also found a few vets who forgot the rules. Like the campaign committee member who almost forgot to take his ship out of the water at a base. Even though he was axis I reminded him about this little item and he corrected his mistake before he made it.
- You need to battle as a team
On Thursday Matt Clarke and I teamed up on Jim Hill’s Andrea Doria and with a little help from a So. Dak. sunk it in the first sortie (I remember hearing he was having pump problems which also helped). Then we went after Pete Kunisch’s Andrea Doria in the rest of the first sortie and the second sortie. We chased him all over the pond. One ship cutting him off while the other hit him, over and over again. It was a great time. Pete ended up with 99-21-13 and I’m sure most of the aboves (Maybe a few on’s & bellows too) were from us. This was my first time that I had fought with someone as a team for a long period of time and it worked out a lot better than I thought it would.