Ice Breaker 2007


Here in Minnesota we have had a summer long drought. My grass died long ago and the mowing time has been put to good use as boat building time. We selected the date for the Ice Breaker back in May and just had to pick the one weekend of the year is was cold and rainy. Rain has been the battling theme this year as the Fray, NATS and now our battle had to put up with bad weather. At least we had Friday with clear skies and warm temps.

Kevin & Brian Bray made it to my house Thursday night and got to meet Tyler Heland who was finishing up his USS Minneapolis. Tyler has been in my ship yard a couple of times working hard to get his wood hulled ship ready for this battle. I’ve also had Mike Cucchianella in the ship yard getting his USS St Paul finished. This would also be the first battle for John Marino (From Chicago) with his USS Pensacola. Peter commented that there are almost as many wood hulled ships up here as there are fiberglass ships. On Sunday we had another “First” battle as we were joined by Chuck Spletz from Wisconsin with his DKM Graf Spee. Chuck has battled for many years with the 72nd scale club and now has a 144th ship to battle with us.

After a pancake breakfast Friday morning Kevin, Brian and I took a trip to Jordan to see the pond I would like to have NATS at. I was very disappointed to see it was over taken by weeds. Everything else about the pond looked good for battling but the weeds have ruled it out for now. We got back to the house around 9:30 and met up with Ben and Tyler then headed to the pond. Tyler had his ship speed tested and did his first sea trails. Everything worked well. I was pleased to see the sheeting leaked in just a few spots. While we were testing Tom Palmer and Lars made it down to the pond. Moe stopped by to chat without his Lutzow and could not be talked into taking The Bike for a ride. Tom split up fleets and battle was started. The teams were Yellow Duct Tape: Kevin (Mass.), Brian (Yavuz), Tom (Nashville), Ben (Glorie). No Flag: Bob (Warspite), Lars (Tiger), Tyler (Mpls). The Bray fleet played 2 on 1 with the Warspite for most of the battle. Lars would make passes as things opened up. Tyler was able to back into the Mass a few times and get his first stern shots to hit home. The Flag fleet always had to keep an eye out for the Glorie. She hides in plain site and jumps on the bow of any ship that passes by and typically opens large holes with her stern guns. Ben has become very good at taking no damage and inflicting tons of it. No major damage was done to the ships in the first sortie and we filled back up and headed out for sortie two. Brian had a pump problem early in the battle and sank. Tom was run around and shot up by Lars and also took the plunge. Scores were Yellow Tape: Mass 77-5-10, Yavuz 40-7-9 sink, Glorie 3-1-0, Nashville 40-7-9 sink. No Flag Warspite 12-1-8, Tiger 39-2-5, Minneapolis 9-4-2.  As the battle wound down Peter came down with his reskined, refitted and now bright RED Scharnhorst. The “Mighty German Battlecruiser” took a page out of the funny looking freighter’s play book and became a big red target. The whole hull must be a bulls eye, just need a white ring around the super structure. Ben commented after the battle that this was the first time he could remember not having The Bike in a battle. As usual I had brought her and got her ready for battle but there was no one to use her today. That changed in the 2nd battle as Brian had lost a rudder servo and his Yavuz was out. Another new Bike rider to add to the long list of captains.

Fleets were changed up with the new ships to be Yellow Flag: Mass, Nashville, Tiger, Minneapolis and No Flag Warspite, Scharnhorst, Glorie, The Bike.  The Flag fleet decided to go after the Tiger and see how much damage see could take before she sank. Lars had made it through NATS without sinking; even when the Axis gave it their best try Tuesday. Lars was willing to play with us and did not run from battle. Peter and I tried to sandwich him as much as we could while Ben pulled ahead and waited for an open shot. The first sortie saw Lars take a lot of holes but not pumping that hard. In the middle of the battle Ben turn to walk to his left and ran right into a “No Fishing” that had just been added to the pond. A bruise on his leg, chest and a small cut on his hand could have been worse if he had hit it with his head.  In-between sorties The Bike lost radio power due to a bad receiver switch; Brian was out of the 2nd sortie. We kept after Lars but it looked for most of the sortie that we were fighting a losing battle. The Tiger was now pumping nonstop but we had run down on bbs. Then a stroke of luck. The Red Scharny cut if front of Lars and even on the water red means stop, Lars did not stop and hit Peter hard amidships. This caused all the water in the Tiger to move and Lars quickly sank. After Lars recovered his ship Tyler also sank for the first time. Not sure if it was vapor lock or forgetting to turn his pump on, the Minneapolis did not have the damage needed to sink. Scores were Yellow Flag: Mass 42-1-6, Nashville 26-2-3, Tiger 137-19-41 sink, Mpls 26-4-0 sink. Flag Warspite 69-5-12, Scharny 13-2-9, The Bike 2-0-0 withdrawal sink, Glorie 2-1-1. As battle was finishing up John came down to the pond and watched the last part of the battle. We packed up and went to my house to fix ships and eat. We decided on ordering pizza to save time and get more ship work done for Saturday. We sat down with John and went over his ship. We did some repair on his drive shafts and couplings to get him ready for battle.

Saturday morning was not looking good. I turned on the weather channel and saw that the rain would start at 9am and would last all day. We got the tents set up before the rains came and got battle started at 10am. Mike & Paul Coffee had both brought family members to see their ships battle. Mike had taken the red eye in from a business trip and had an hour of sleep to battle on.  We were waiting on Lars to get to the pond, knowing Lars is not a morning person I called his house and found out he was still working on his ship. But the good news was Andy got home from work at 11am and would be battling that afternoon. Lars was staying home to sheet Andy’s ship. Ron had a dead transmitter battery in his radio so we swapped crystals with his cruisers radio. Always pays to have a spare on hand. We split the fleets up to. Yellow Flag:  Mass, Nashville, Scharny, The Bike (Andy T), Mpls, Yavuz. vs the No Flag: Warspite, Lion, Rividavia (Paul), Glorie, St. Paul (Mike), Pensacola. The battle started with the Brays teaming up on the Rividavia. I was wingman to Paul and tried to stay close and even the odds. Paul was able to hold his own as the Brays tried to put him down. Kevin ran into Ben’s stern guns halfway through the sortie. Kevin then started to turn circles with a dead rudder servo. Around this time Ron complained that he lost reverse and forwards was now reverse. The sortie wound down and we all went to work trying to get the ships back in fighting shape. We found that Ron had a bad switch in his throttle so he switched to the St Louis, taking a withdrawal sink on the Lion. Kevin was still working on his rudder servo when battle started. Paul and I again teamed up and played with the Brian. Kevin heard us going after his son and put his ship on the water without a rudder servo to take the pressure off Brian. Ben hung out on the wings and found a target in the Scharny. Ben said after the battle the Mpls & The Bike did a great job of backing in on him and keeping him from getting shots on Peter. The Flag Fleet then lost two cruisers with really light damage. Ron forgot to turn on his pump and turn a little too much and Mike listed over and sank. Both of them decided to leave their ships on the bottom of the pond while we kept battling. I always get nervous about this and was hoping they would go in and get them out. We kept after Peter and ran him around the pond. Peter sank from what he thought was too much running and not enough pumping.  I went in to get Ron’s ship with Mike and Peter each getting their own. Peter found his ship right away next to shore. I needed a little looking to find the St Louis. I walked it to shore and went back to help Mike and Peter look for the St Paul. As I was walking I found a large rock and fell face first into the pond. Somehow the rain bag I was wearing kept mine timer from getting wet. I’m sure everyone on shore had a good laugh. Peter, Mike and I spent a lot of time looking for the St Paul. Everyone pulled their ships off the water while we walked lines looking for it. We knew the general area and it was only waste deep. Mike finally kicked the bow and pulled it out of the water. A little scary for your first sink. The sortie was over and so was the morning battle. Scores were Yellow Flag: Mass 92-1-2, Yavuz 26-10-5, Nashville 4-0-0, Scharny 41-1-18 sink, The Bike 2-0-0, Mpls 10-1-0. Flag Fleet Warspite 17-4-3, Rividavia 20-2-1, Lion 23-1-0 sink, St Paul 6-2-2 sink, Pensacola 2-0-1, St Louis 1-0-0 sink, Glorie 3-0-1

In-between sorties Mike Smith came by to visit. Mike is a former battler from Florida that has moved up here. He is going to get his ships back in shape and join our colder battling group. We also had two other guys show some interest in the club. The bad weather kept more spectators away. I always hope to pick up a battler or two at the Ice Breaker. This year we had two ships on the water that started as Ice Breaker spectators. Lars and Andy both made it to the pond during lunch ready to battle. I went home to get some warmer clothes and my waders. Mike went home to take a nap and fix his leaky rudder box. His nap turned into a long snooze and he missed the afternoon battle. Ron had lost rudder control and after opening his rudder box and radio box we found that it was a bad servo extender wire. He missed this battle waiting for his boxes to reseal. Tyler had also lost rudder control, it was a common thing this weekend, but he only had a dead receiver battery. Tom had been blowing hoses in almost every battle. He cleaned out his regulator and did not have any more problems. Fleets were Yellow Flag: Mass, Yavuz, Invincible, Scharnhorst, Nashville, Mpls & The Bike. Flag Fleet Warspite, Tiger, Rividavia, Pensacola, Glorie. The Flag Fleet played short a ship with out Ron and Mike. We made Andy our main focus. He has not been to a battle since 2003. Lars had just pulled off the skin on his ship from that NATS. Now Andy was freshly sheeted and ready for a fight. Paul and I chased him around dumping stern guns and sidemounts into him. Paul had been playing with his speed controller before the battle and had it set too high in reverse. He ended up backing himself under and sank. I kept chasing Andy around and called in Lars to help him sink him. Lars was not too sure about shooting up the ship he just spent all day and night repairing. But he came to help cut Andy off and pin him in for me. Meanwhile Brian was playing with the Pensacola and managed to sink him in the channel. Tyler also sank; I think it was vapor lock or forgetting to turn his pump on again. He came back in for the 2nd sortie. The 2nd sortie had the Warspite and Tiger following the Invincible around. Andy ran, fought and when things looked bad pulled in towards shore and was pounded by the sidemounts of the Warspite and sank. We still had a few bbs left and started after Peter. Scores were Mass 56-3-2, Scharny 43-5-6, Invincible 70-10-41 sink, Yavuz 7-1-0, Mpls 6-0-0 sink, The Bike 6-3-2, Nashville 3-0-2. After we packed up and dropped the ships off at my place we when out to dinner. The new guys were introduced to the traditional Best and Worst Five of the day. Kevin and Brian decided to leave that night. They were out of rudder servos and Brian started school on Monday.

Sunday was another wet day. We set up without rain but the drizzle started soon after. Chuck Speltz and his Graff Spee came from Wisconsin to battle with us. Chuck has done big gun ships for several years and now he has build a fast gun ship to get more battling time in locally. Peter was a little late getting to the pond and missed the start of the first sortie. Fleets started as Tiger, Graff Spee, Nashville, Pensacola, Glorie, St Louis. No Flags Warspite, St Paul, Invincible. Some how our fleet ended up out numbered 2-1, I think it had a lot to do with Tom setting up the fleets. We became more of an underdog when neither of my sidemounts would fire and after a few stern gun shots I was out of bbs. Turns out I had forgot to reload my guns after I tweaked. What a rookie mistake, I forgot to unpin my guns in the 2nd sortie too. Since I got off the water fast I put the Warspite on the table and grabbed The Bike. Peter was putting the Scharny on the water as I was coming in. The Pensacola sank near the shore without any damage. JP had a few spots of sheeting that were coming lose. We finished off our bbs and got ready for sortie two. We had to hurry so Tom could pack up and check out of the hotel room. JP switched over to The Bike and switched to the No Flag Fleet. The 2nd sortie was a “Get Lars” battle. Both Peter and I chased him around the pond. I don’t know if chase is the right term as Lars stayed and played like a Hug n Slug ship. Ben got his stern guns into the St Paul and started tearing up the starboard side. We all got off the water and decided to do a 3rd sortie instead of patching and counting. Ron had to head home and took off along with Tom. We handed out the trophies and got ready for the next battle. We continued the “Get Lars” battle while Ben kept at the starboard side of the St Paul. Lars was looking low in the water but was still fighting. The St Paul was looking low too. Ben had opened up her sides and she was pumping hard. Mike managed to hang on for quite awhile before sinking. He quickly went in to get his ship. While Lars and Mike were in the water Ben and I reloaded our guns. The battle now became a free for all and Peter was the next ship on the list. Everyone got shots in where they could and after the bbs were gone we pulled the ships for a 4th sortie. In-between sorties JP plugged a new battery into The Bike and sprayed some water into the radio. It looked ok until he got on the water then the ship started to glitch and had to be pulled. I set it on shore and turned around to get the Warspite out of a tree it had backed into. That’s when a hose in the stern of The Bike blew. It blew the superstructure off the top of the ship, pushed the deck over the nut that holds it down and blew the interior armor out a section of sheeting. Too bad it was not on the water as it would have made a great sink. The battle started back up Peter, being the biggest ship, became the main target. Chuck had been having trouble with his drive system in each sortie and kept going dead in the water. Each of us drove by and gave him a few shots but pretty much left him alone. I went out and brought his ship in as it was starting to sink. Peter then came into the shore and was sunk. A little jolly boat came off of his ship and floated above the wreck, very few of the crew made it off the ship. Andy & I chased Ben around for awhile but could do nothing to him. Ben decided to see how much his little Frog could take and parked next to the Warspite for some haymaker practice. The damage was nicely grouped and Ben had some good sheets on the starboard side. He took a lot more damage then we though he could before he finally sank. Scores were:  No Flag: Warspite 35-12-4, Scharnhorst 50-3-16 sink, St Paul 59-2-2 sink, Invincible  58-5-6, The Bike 3-1-2 Flag Graff Spee 84-3-3 sink, Nashville 12-3-3, Tiger 155-17-35 sink, Glorie 8-8-39 sink, Pensacola 0-0-0 sink, St Louis 12-0-0

We packed up in the rain and headed back to my house for some hot dogs and NATS video. We sat around in the porch, ate and shared stories. Then we sat down to watch this years NATS video. The quality of most of it was not very good. Lots of water and very little battling. But we had enough battling this weekend to make up for it. Best of Class 2&3 Ben, Best of Class 4 Brian, Best of Class 5 Bob, Best of Class 6 Kevin, Best of Scale Lars, Most Feared Ben.