A Rookies View of the 2003 and 2004 Nationals

By Kevin Plumer
(An e-mail from Kevin to rookie Mike DeMarco after the 2004 Nationals.)

I showed up on Sunday with a boat I built ALL by myself in about 3 months (note to rookies, get veteran building help) by following articles online (like Tom's site) and by asking a few questions on the list, but thatís it. So it passed the tests and me and my dad drove home (we only live 1:10 away...).

Next day on first sortie both set screws on my prop shafts came out (note to rookies, use locktight) so I went out of control/on five but I had gun problems so I didnít care. Within a minute someone announced "we have an allied boat dead in the water over hear" and I came under fire from a couple of Derf's and then a wire connecting the pump broke so I sank. When it sank a servo or two got wet so I was out of commission for the day, but I had fun watching.

Next day the boat worked through the first battle and only really received attention from Ken's son's AC. Then during lunch I did some stuff (trying to keep it short...er) to make the guns work and then during convoy I too was assigned convoy assault and I actually shot a ship. I was ecstatic, cuz I think I was attacking the Moury's little seaplane tender and I could see the holes going into it. So that was fun but then I noticed boat low and water and no pump...hmm... so the auto switch didnít work or something and Matt propwashed it down, but it would have sank anyway.

I stayed home Wednesday because of cost restrictions and Thursday and Friday went well but my only real attacker was Kenís son and I put a few holes in his ship too, but I def wasnít the target. (Only a bit left, I think...)

After Nats I through in a very quick refit that involved rewiring the throttle and changing all motors to bigger ones, because I thought bigger=better. So I got there and many people commented on my improvements and I felt good about it. So first sortie I was Allied again (Espana can fight on both sides :) ) so I think I went after Bill G in his Nassau, but my guns (bow sidemount and sterngun, didnít get the stern side shooting that year...) werenít doing any damage and I soon found myself surrounded by 2 Nassauís (Bill and Cam) and Mattís Baden. So my pump got clogged (just like yours) and it sank.

I think they let me relaunch, but I think it was this time that I made it about 15ft, got rammed, didnít notice it (something I need to work on, after my first sink at NATS this year I counted 5 below rams, 3 inch long "barn doors" all uncalled because they were really just taps...) and sank rather impressively (with the stern going first and the bow sticking up a bit) in chest high water (I think I picked the boat up with my foot, I didnít think to dive down). So during lunch Carl and some other guys took my pump apart and found it running backwards (didnít test it after the refit) so I thought the problems were over. I forget what happened in that next battle, I think I may have survived...

So the night battle time rolled around and Bill G and Matt loaned me some lights so I think I just wrapped one of the light's leads around the battery, so I was the only boat with its lights on... so I was shot at, had my balsa superstructure SHREADED by someoneís guns, and sank, but I think it was a true damage sink (BC large pump is much more powerful then small pump, which I had because of the motor size rule). Next day I sank one or twice more, once because of auto not being automatic (insufficient contact size). So that event went ok, my boat had NO servo problems after sinking 5 times. (Summing it up, I think)

So that was the last event of the year for me and I refit some stuff over winter (spring, note to rookies, donít put your boat off until the spring) And had a much more successful NATS this year: all my guns shot at one point, I donít think ever at the same time during battle, but my RTB reg has a thing with 120psi so I could bring my guns to bear but I wasnít really putting many holes in people. Also my pump with MANUAL switch and large BC pump worked flawlessly. My radio survived 2 sinks, but by Friday Iíd lost 3 servos and my boat was pretty dead, but it has successfully been revived, donít worry... My only problem was batteries which caused my boat to run at about convoy ship speed and caused one sink. (Story over)

Mike, stick with it.

Donít worry about being sparred in battles, as I said I was sparred (minus Monday) my whole first Nats except for Kieran but bow and stern guns (that are located in a very good position Ken) verse a very low freeboard boat with casements only really kills superstructure... And once you have your I boat running, if you start attacking Axis, they'll def fight back. This is a little aside, but on your pump if you donít have it, I have found that a tight small section of screen right over the inlet tight up against the pump and the separate layer of screening that covers the whole pump casing works great.

Mike, as I said I had a similar experience. I got the spirit award on Thursday I think too and it DOES show a lot of spirit to not give up with simple rookie problems. Also I definitely donít think the Axis won because of your small problems, and donít think it was your fault because it wasnít. (I'm reading through your story again to get everything) Umm also my battling was pretty much over too on the end of Thursday because on Friday I made it out for one sortie and went out of control and directly told Dave S. to come shoot at my dead boat. And I also didnít receive any awards (Barry was there and he had his Admiral Scheer working flawlessly, canít compete with that), but the awards will come and I really wasnít expecting any...

Stick with it, things will get better. On Monday I was shocked at how good you battled. I was like hmm, I think Iíll go after that SC (they all look the same) and was very surprised that it was you, not to belittle you but I was no where near that good in my first battle.

(This is to everyone)
On Thursday Iím sorry about getting into the target area. It was after Carl had sunk and 5 out of the 6 ships left (I think) and Iím pretty sure no one was shooting at the targets. Also Chris D. I guess wanted try to sink me or something and I was on 5 so I was just trying to avoid/take as little damage as possible. And as I said I had battery problems and I had just changed the throttle servo so the position of the "cam" was more towards the forward switch and there were some other problems so I didnít always have reverse, as I later found out because it had been working before that. Also the cage thing was BROKEN/OPEN with a lengthy hole in the side, which was asked if it should be repaired but someone said no. So when it happened I was turning away from Chris (the Espana really doesnít turn that well, just watch it sometime) and I was going slow and I found myself headed right towards the opening. At first I tried to go in reverse, but it was not working (aka out of control, but I was already on 5) and I tried to turn out of the way and tapped the throttle a few times, but my pump is pointing out of the stern and it can push the boat and it did just that, and slowly pushed the boat into the target area, which wasnít being attacked, with me trying to go in reverse the whole time even before my boat was inside. So eventually I was able to back out and nothing at all was said to me, nothing. I was completely unaware of your situation Mike until just now. Iím sorry about it all. I would have gladly pulled my boat out if there were any feelings towards that, I think all I did was shoot at the JB (I was the one chasing you :) and actually knock 5 or so of my OWN targets down while turning away from them with the pump going on full, helping the allies. I donít know what else to say, I just wish something was brought to me and I deeply apologize for any issues that I caused.

Sorry for being so long, this has taken me more than an hour (I type slow).

I hope to make it to one of the three (I think) battles left and if not ill see you all next year, with 2 or 3 ships from the Byfield Boatbuilding Place.

See ya,
Kevin "I was a rookie not to long ago myself" P.
SNS Espana (that doesnít turn good at all)

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