Farmington Fracus


With an early NATS this year and the loss of Kevin Bray’s pond we were without a “Mini NATS” to start out the year. Kevin Hovis found a pond in Farmington, Missouri about 20 minutes from his house. The pond has a nice new pavilion with tables that was just finished two weeks before our battle. You could still smell the fresh cut wood standing inside of it. The pond was a very large oval with a rock point in the middle that came out about 80’. Kevin put a rope barrier from this point to the right that gave us 80’x 300’ to battle in. Kevin Bray and I thought this was a great set up for our 26 second ships. The fast battleships would not be able to run too far before we could catch them.

When Kevin first posted with battle there were going to be four of us Port Polar Bear captains attending. The weekend before the battle Moe and Ron both got sick and could not make it. Ben and I decided to leave my house at 8pm and drive through the night so we could battle all day Friday. This turned out to be the best thing we could have done since the weather went south on us during the weekend. We pulled into Farmington at 7am got unloaded and helped Kevin set up. Kevin Bray, Pat & Matt Clarke and Randy were also in town for the battles Friday. The morning started out a little cool but there was hardly any wind. As the day went on it warmed up a little but the wind picked up a lot.

We divided the fleets into Flag Randy in the Tiger, Matt in the Houston, Pat in the Indiana and Ben in the NC vs Kevin Hovis in the Missouri, Kevin Bray in the Massachusetts and Myself in the Warspite. Battle was called and we quickly went stern to stern. I t-boned Pat and put a nice big hole into his side by the stern turret. We both pulled our ships while he patched up. Mean while Ben was taking after Kevin Hovis. He said he felt intimidated at first by the twin sidemounts but found there was a lot of room behind them to shoot at. Pat & I got back on the water and started to mix it up again. Of course I hit him and again put a big hole in his side. Back out to patch, at least this time he had all the material he needed with him. While Pat and I were standing watching, Ben had started to get some good hits into both Kevins. Randy and Matt were also adding to the damage total. When I finally stopped running into Pat I was able to mix it up with Randy and get some sidemounts into him. Bray and Pat also were trading sidemounts and it looked like Pat was getting the worse of it. He went down close to shore, right and the end of the sortie. He latter found two more ram holes that he did not call. No doubt done by my pointy bowed ship. Since I had been out of most of the sortie I had a lot of bbs left. I shot them in Randy’s direction and he started pumping pretty hard, but did make it off his five. For the second sortie I pledged to stay away from Pat so I would not ram him any more. Our fleet deceived to go after Randy and put him down and then work on Pat some more. Just a few seconds into the battle I started to back in on Pat’s bow while he was stern to stern with the Kevins. Pat did not see me coming or did not think a QE backing in was a bad thing. I was able to get many well placed sterns into his bow before he woke up and moved off. While I was blasting Pat with twins Randy was hitting me with his single stern gun, oh the humanity of it all. After that we went back to our plan of getting Randy, it started off very well. Bray and I were able to sandwich Randy and add to his damage. The new Tiger slipped beneath the waves for the first “Real” sink of the weekend. Vengeance was quick however for the Flag fleet as I lost site of were I was and parked behind Pat and Ben to take a bow full of triples. After a little too much chasing around the triple holes got below the water, my pump was not able to keep up and I sank 20’ from shore. The water was nice and warm but was up to my armpits. The rest of the day I was freezing as the cold wind blew on my wet pants. After I got the guns on the Warsptie cleared and pinned I ran to grab my camera. Virginia (Randy’s wife) had taped the first sortie and was now using Ben’s camera to get the second. The timing of it was perfect. I got back to the pond to catch Ben blowing out the starboard side of the Missouri. Ben had climbed up Kevin’s side and was locked in with his sidemount. It was that beautiful drum beat sound made by pop battle armor when bbs hit home. No other armor makes this sound. I love hearing so much I was cheering Ben on as he gutted my teammate. They went through this circle of death a couple of times before Kevin sank next to shore. What looked like a sure No Flag victory had turn into a great come back by the Flag fleet. Scores were No Flag Mass (Bray) 25-2-6 Warspite (Bob) 40-2-5 sink, Missouri (Hovis) 169-13-18 sink. Total Damge 6,615. Flag Tiger (Randy) 23-9-25 sink, Houston (Matt) 3-2-0, Indiana (Pat) 36-6-23 sink, NC (Ben) 25-8-11 Total Damage 6,445

The second battle started after lunch. The wind had really picked up by then and was going to make it tough to battle. I taped my haymaker turret over to keep extra water from coming in. Most of the other battlers also taped their decks down so only the bbs holes would sink them. The fleets stayed close to the same, people wise. The No Flag fleet added Tom running a borrowed USS Mpls. Tom lives in the area and was making a Friday afternoon “Sales” call. After the battle and on Saturday we went over his Brooklyn kit, giving him tips on its construction. He left the battle Saturday excited about the hobby and ready to get his kit built. The other fleet changes had Randy changing to the VDT and Matt taking the Indiana out for the first time. Kevin and I wanted to work on our team tactics and thought Matt would be a good target. The first sortie was really two battles. Bray and I working Matt over with Pat running the Houston between us and Ben and Randy chasing after Hovis on the other end of the pond. Matt, or The Viper as he has come to be known, is the hobbies’ best cruiser captain. But running a slower ship is not something he is use to. Kevin and I have been in our ships for several years and really did a number on him. Matt gave quite a bit back to us but being out numbered in a new ship with one broken rudder was a bad thing. I was surprised how long it took for him to sink in the first sortie. Either Kevin or I was hitting him with sidemounts the whole battle. I started to think maybe we were not sending any of them through the hull. We did finally get him to sink next to the shore. We went after Randy next and tossed the last few bbs at him. Ben had started to take it to Kevin H. again getting a lot of triples and sidemounts into the billboard sides of the Missouri. After this sortie I went to look at the Indiana and was very disappointed not to see any big below the waterline hits. But as I looked closer I began to find lots of little holes. Pat does such a good job sheeting with perfect balsa it’s hard to see the holes even when you’re look at them. I counted the bellows and part of the aboves so Matt could patch and come back in. He had 42 aboves on the portside from the A turret forward and 78 belows, not bad team work after all. The next sortie Kevin and I targeted Randy’s VDT. He turns better than a Sodak and was a little harder to tie down. It took until the 3rd sortie but once again we were able to reach our goal and Randy sank. Now the wind was really picking up and Ben had chased Kevin B around taking a few too many triples. Bray and Ben got into a pushing match and Ben was not calling a ram. Kevin B managed to push him around until he got too full of water and went down; due mostly to the rough water and Kevin’s pushing not battle damage. Scores were No Flag Mpls (Tom) 36-5-2, Warspite (Bob) 48-0-9, Missouri (Hovis) 177-19-13 Mass (Bray) 97-19-13 Total Damage 6,530. Flag VDT (Randy) 30-9-28 sink, Indiana (Matt, total with patching) 93-9-94 sink, Houston (Pat) 10-2-6, NC (Ben) 80-7-15 sink Total Damage 13,105.

Trent and Trystan showed up in the middle of the third sortie. It was already pretty late and Ben and I were beat from the long drive. Everyone packed and got a shower and headed to Hovis’ house to work on ships and get some dinner. Ben jumped in the shower first and as I was shaving I heard him say “You’ve got to be kidding me, we’re out of hot water!!” The plumber must not know how to hook up a shower as he had the hot on the cold side. We made it to the BBQ place in town right before they closed. They had to put some more food out on the buffet line just for us. By the time we got back to Kevin’s I only had enough energy to patch one side of my ship. Ben and I went back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep; we had been up for 41 hours.

Saturday morning started out a little cloudy and calm. Hovis brought out the electronic speed tester to see how it worked. I ran the Mpls and Warspite through it. The wind was again getting bad and the sensors were moving around too much to test. Trent was not able to find the problem with his Roma’s drive but they did get the Graf Spee working for Trystan. Ron also had made it with his Gneisenue. The last time I had seen this ship was my first battle in ’99 when it was owed by Dave Mote. Ron bought it from him and this would be his 2nd battle with it. The fleets were set up: No Flag Warspite (Bob), Mass. (Bray), Mpls (Tom), Guenisenue (Ron) vs Flag VDT (Randy), Indiana (Matt), Houston (Pat), Missouri (Hovis), NC (Ben). By the time we were ready for battle it was raining and windy. Tom had gone to Wallmart to get some rain gear. Ben also took off for breakfast. Since the weather was getting worse we started the first sortie without Ben. Hovis also missed the first sortie as one of his solenoids had broken off the tank. Bray and I were going to go after Ben but ended up tangling with Matt instead. Early in the battle Ron took off after Trystan’s Graf Spee. He tossed a few shots his way and came back by me. He told me him pump was not starting so he went to go hide at the far end of the pond on five. No one noticed or felt bad and did not go after him. He made it off his five without sinking. In-between sorties he found the wire had come off of his pump. I showed him how to solder it back on correctly. The first sortie was a hug n slug fest with all of the slow ships slugging it out. Ben made it back and into the second sortie. Ron never took any damage so I guess everyone was too busy trying to sink Kevin and me to go after him. We were out numbered 5 to 2 and they keep coming at us. I remember thinking if this is what NATS will be like I’m going to love it. There were shots lining up for us faster than we could take them. I had run down the shore to chase Randy when I heard that the Mpls had sunk. Seams Tom got sideways in the wind while turning and the ship tipped over. Ben told me latter that it looked like he was close to shore and might be able to drive it in. By the time I had walked over to everyone Hovis, with waders on, had already gone in the water. He made it to where the Mpls had gone down but the water was over his waders and pulling him down. Tom fired the guns to mark the ship and it had moved all the way out to the rope line. Pat jumped in the water to get Kevin out and then started going after the Mpls. I pulled the Warspite to shore and started to take off my rain gear, jacket and shirt. Pat could not find the ship or touch bottom. He was coming in as I was swimming out. I swam half way and had Tom fire the guns again. To everyone’s surprise the bubble were right next to me. I dove down and could not see a thing. It seamed like a long way down and then I got hit in the face with bubbles. I could hear the pump running and found the ship on the soft bottom. I had a tough time swimming with it into shore because the waves were getting in my face. So I launched it in front of me and it beached itself. Everyone had pulled their ship while I was out but I had bbs left and wanted to battle. Matt, Pat and I put back in and started battling. The wind now was really bad. I could hardly back up into the wind and turning was a bad idea. Matt pushed me around and I rolled under. Matt gave a victorious little whoop and I was back in the warm water again. It was better than being in the cold wind. We counted and thought about battling after the weather pasted but things just got worse. It was so windy that there were 6”-9” white caps on the pond. So we all packed up and headed to Hovis’s house to work on ships. Scores were Flag Graff Spee (Trystan) 4-0-0, VDT (Randy) 15-5-11, Indiana (Matt) 64-16-49, Houston (Pat) 26-3-12, NC (Ben) 33-8-27 Total Damge 6,670. No Flag Gniesnue (Ron) 0-0-0 Mpls (Tom) 1-0-0 sink, Mass (Bray) 40-5-13, Warspite (Bob) 38-0-1 Missouri (Hovis) 68-5-32 Total Damage 5,620

On our way there Ben and I saw a tree branch hanging from a power line. I commented that power would be out at Kevin’s and it was. We still unpacked and started patching ships. Trent and Ron had their ships on the bench with everyone looking over their problems. It was like ER, the dieing patient on the table and all the doctors working on them. Trystan and I were wiping down all of my stuff in all of my boxes. They had sat in the rain and were full of water. After we were done I looked over his Graf Spee and got the guns firing. This whole time everyone else was trying to get Trent’s ESC to work. Strange things were happening, things only a cursed ship would have. Finally we pulled out the tied together wires and got rid on an old ground wire that was not connected to anything. This fixed the problem. There is no reason why this wire would cause any issues, it must be cursed. Of course I put it in Bray’s ship to pass it on. Ben and I packed up our stuff and we all headed out to dinner at the Mexican place in town. After dinner we went back to the hotel to patch and I was going to change my drive motors. Ben was sleeping before I got both ships patched. With the drive motors done I went to bed at 11pm.

It was very cloudy but not windy or rainy Sunday. Tom had left so I kept the Mpls in the car. While I was getting things ready I found the cursed wire in my ship. Kevin was laughing and was the guilty party. I tossed it at Hovis’s ship and scored. I wanted to check speed with the new motor so I buttoned things up and hit the water. The new motors made it backwards for 10’ feet, forwards for two and died. It drifted to shore and on the table I found the motors to run direct but really slow, the wires also were getting hot, soon there was some smoke coming from the starboard side motor. The cursed wire strikes again. I moved Warspite to another table and got Mpls out of the car. In between getting her ready I helped Trent and Trystan get their ships going. Hovis found one of his solenoids stuck open and was also out of the battle. That’s cursed wire two, battlers zero. The fleets were set up as: Flag NC (Ben), Tiger (Randy), Geunisenue (Ron) vs Mass (Bray), Mpls (Bob), Graff Spee (Trystan) Roma (Trent). I tried to run with Trystan but he had a bad list to the portside and could not move around too much. Ben went for the Roma and hit him hard in the stern with sidemounts. I put most of my sterns toward Randy and Ron. Soon the Roma looked very bad and was not pumping very much. She rolled over and sank next too shore. The Geusenue also went down after taking a few too many sidemounts from Bray. As the second sortie started the Roma was not putting out much of a pump stream even though we could hear the motor running. We thought he might have the pump wired backwards. Trent pulled his ship out as it sank and he sat out this part of the battle. Trystan’s list was fixed with a wrench and he was ready to go. Again I tossed most of my shots to Ron and Randy. Ben and Bray were off playing down to the right of the pond. I had lost my rudder in the first sortie and it jammed up again, need to reglue that post in place before NATS. Ben and Randy came after the Mpls to put her down. I was able to get the last bbs I had into them and managed to stay away from them taking a big pounding. A few times I used Randy’s (Empty sidemount) starboard side to hide from Ben. My five was over and Ben went to go get Bray who was also on five. But Kevin had already pulled his ship. He had both drive motors burn out and was smoking. Cursed wire three, battlers zero. Only Ben seams immune to the curse, he drove around with the wire on his ship all day. We’ll see how his motors hold up in the next battle. As I was pining my guns Ben pulled up and emptied his port sidemount into me. He made a nice big hole under the hanger. This was the last organized battle of the weekend. Randy, Hovis, Trystan and Ron went out to play around. Ron sank again and had a very hard time finding his ship. Luckily after 20 minutes he got it out. I spent some time with Trent going over his ship and making a “to do list”. Things that need to be done for NATS and things that can wait. Ben and I said our good byes and hit the road. Because I brought my lap top I was able to write this as we drove. Though I still find myself wondering what happened during the battles. It was a good start to the season I can’t wait for NATS.