First, let me start off by saying that GORUCK continues to put on an incredible event. When they first introduced Beached, I had absolutely no intention of ever participating in it. Hell, I hardly knew how to swim, why would I bother with a swimming event if I don’t know how to swim? Then, I met my girlfriend, who absolutely loves swimming. Turns out, so do many of my other friends. Not only that, they have all also decided they wanted to do Beached, for Memorial Day weekend. Well damn, now everyone I know will be away for Memorial Day weekend, and the only reason I won’t see them is because I do not know how to swim. Fuck it, I’ll join you guys. Worst case, I get dropped and am forced to watch from the beach
To answer your first question, No, I did not grow up around a pool/lake/ocean/puddle like many, if not all of my friends did. I had the opportunity to do so, but not often. So I grew up with the strong ability to doggy-paddle, and I made that my strong stroke. I can, and will, do a normal overhand stroke, if necessary, but not for an extended period of time. Realizing I needed to be at least a sufficient swimmer for Beached, I did the only thing I knew possible to practice. I joined a gym. But not just any gym, I joined LA Fitness. Why? Because they had a pool, I had a week, and they gave me a 10 day free trial
Thankfully, not only is my girlfriend a proficient swimmer, but she also used to be a swim instructor. Bingo.
First step, practice my kicking. “Kick off the wall, and see how long you can kick and swim underwater, without your hands”. After 5 attempts, I literally stood up in the pool and proclaimed “WHY AM I NOT MOVING?!”. I still don’t know why, but there was no time to figure out why. Next was breathing. She gave me a few lessons, helped me with breathing, stroke, etc. and before I knew it, I swimming laps!! One at a time, but multiple in general! That hour went by really quick, but it was very helpful. Thankfully for me, I have endurance, just very little skill.
Day 2 was more technique and practice. Another hour of just getting used to water and movement and not drowning. Unfortunately, this was all the time I had left. Good thing my friends were super supportive.
The Packing List
GORUCK posted a packing list a few months back of all
We showed up around noon the day before the event. Camp was set up behind the GORUCK Team House so we wanted to make sure we were there early to claim our territory. We set up tent, unloaded some bags, then toured the area, buying a few last minute items like sun block and sleeping mats. The show was about to begin.
The Ruck Off
The night/day/hours before just about any GORUCK event involve a gathering of the participants in a social setting, typically with beer, with the goal of meeting your future and fellow teammates. Beached was no different, and this time everyone was sleeping in the same space. GORUCK HQ happens to be right around the corner from the Team House, and this particular week they were holding a Memorial Ruck for Jeff Proietti. 5k, a few beers, and some nice new blisters later, we were back at the Team House. From here we went out to a local bar with a few of the Cadre to watch the hockey game. We then headed back to get settled in and hopefully get some sleep before the big event.
Day 1, 0800hrs
Day one started off simple, we gathered around Cadre John aka “Big Daddy” for a welcome speech. He went over everyone we were going to meet, the classes we were going to get to sit in on, and the “missions” we were going to get. He assured us that before every mission we will get a run down of timing, location, and what we will need to pack/wear to be ready for it. Nothing in terms of gear was to be a mystery for the next mission because he wanted to ensure we’d be more focused on the task at hand rather than our gear. I found this to be very comforting as gear has a habit of taking away from the enjoyment of many events, if overwhelming.
Our first class was safety. We learned all about the life vests we’d be using for the weekend. We learned how to mount them, inflate them if necessary, and how to pull the emergency rip cord that would inflate the vest immediately in case we started to sink. I’m not going to sugar coat the fact that I was thankful for these
Now that we learned how not to sink, it was time to show our ability to swim. After a safety inspection, we paired ourselves up with someone of similar swim ability. There were no bricks available, so instead I paired up with Jordan. First task, swim a buoy 500m out and back, then repeat. I didn’t drown, and my finning abilities improved throughout the swim. It was actually a pleasant swim despite the countless jelly fish. So glad I headed Big Daddy’s advice and wore pants.
Much of the events of Day 1 kind of blurred together, but among swimming we learned how to assemble, inflate, and use a Zodiac. Among being one of the most fun aspects of the event, these also quickly became the most despised aspects of this event. They floated great, in water. However, we had to get them to the water first, and that sucked. However, once in the water we got to learn all sorts of fun tricks like casting (jumping out at high speeds), and broaching:
Later that night, we would go on to repeat these lessons, but in the dark, with only chem lights to show the Cadre where we were. And it was awesome.
After only getting a few hours of sleep, it was time for Day Two. First mission was to now swim out 1,000m and back with our newly formed sub teams. After a few more day events and classes, we headed back to the Team House for a surprise visit from the local law enforcement. They were shutting down our operation. I have to say, GORUCK has an incredible way of dealing with change, and they handled the situation impressively. We were told to eat, pack up all of our tents and to plan not to access any of it until “some time the next day”. This is when shit really got interesting. No amount of words will describe how incredible the next 12 hours were, but I will sum it up the best I can.
As a class, we were given one mission, with each sub-team receiving side missions along the way. In essence, we were to paddle the Zodiacs 5 miles north, infiltrate an unknown beach, and find certain items to bring back to our boat to return to our rendezvous point with. And this was all to be done at night. The teams spent about an hour planning and plotting our courses, then the team leaders spent another hour discussing with BD the plan. After combing out every single possible detail, it was mission time. All I have to say, was that it was phenomenal.
Technically, still part of Day 2, we returned to the Team House. After one more mission on the south side of the beach, we utilized our waterproofing techniques to store civ clothes and infiltrate the shore. We basically ended the trip on this note, all returning to the Team House for the final cleanup, congratulations, and BBQ/party. We made it, and it was great
Overall, this was a very well organized event. Food was provided throughout the event. There was a set schedule, with a ton of informative classes. My favorite part, besides the mission, was the Cadre’s willingness to share personal stories. It isn’t very often that we as civilians get a taste of this world, and I loved it. In true GORUCK fashion, we were also very exhausted by the end of the night, barely able to walk. I highly recommend this event to anyone that likes, or even remotely tolerates, the water. I will update this AAR with pictures as they are released, but for now I hope this provides a good insight of what we did. And yes, I will return again!
You can find out more about Beached at GORUCK.com/beached. They have another event coming up in July.