‘Below Deck Adventure’: Oriana Clears up ‘EpauletGate’ – ‘It Was a Big Misunderstanding’ [Exclusive]

Oriana Schneps wanted to explain what was really behind the epaulet discussion she had with bosun Lewis Lupton that led to massive conflict on Below Deck Adventure.

Chief stew Faye Clarke didn’t assign rank to her stews this season. But when Lupton noticed that Schneps only had one stripe, instead of two – designating she was the second stew – he suggested that he order her the correct epaulets. She agreed, so Clarke was furious when Schneps’ new epaulets arrived.

Clarke emphasized in a confessional that she didn’t want hierarchy on the boat this season. So was Schneps trying to game the system to get ahead? Not really, she said.

Oriana says the epaulet issue was a misunderstanding on ‘Below Deck Adventure’

“I think that the whole thing kind of was blown a little bit out of proportion,” Schneps told Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the situation. “It was a big misunderstanding that was really brought to light on that last episode. The kind of discussion Lewis and I had about the epaulets was very much in passing as he pointed out to Faye. His epaulets were wrong as well, which is something that I wished that she kind of noticed.”

Faye Clarke, Oriana Schneps and Nathan Morley from Below Deck Adventure on a tender in front of a mountain
Faye Clarke, Oriana Schneps and Nathan Morley | Photo courtesy of Faye Clarke

“Uniform is a big part of being on a yacht, so he was like, ‘I have the wrong epaulets. I’m working on getting new ones. I’m ordering them now.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s wild, I do too.'”

Schneps truly thought she was second stew on the boat. “I thought it was just an issue with mine,” she said about her epaulets. “I sort of left it because it’s an uncomfortable thing to be like ‘Did you not notice these were wrong?’ It just wasn’t a big priority to bring it up. But it was a very casual conversation – like we could have been talking about how our shoes were the wrong size. It just happened to be the epaulets. So, it kind of spiraled from there. But in no way did I mean to have any conniving intention.”

She was hired to be second stew on ‘Below Deck Adventure’

The biggest issue is that Clarke didn’t assign rank, but Schneps thought she was hired to be the second stew this season. “When I joined the boat it was very clear that I was second stew,” she insisted. “And based on my experience as well, I never would have taken the position as a junior stew. I was the person who hired Kasie [Faddah] on her first yacht ever. So in my mind, it was never communicated to me that that position was up for interpretation. I never really even thought twice about the uniform mishap being seen in a negative way. And they never communicated, ‘You guys are on trial.'”

But Clarke was pretty firm that they weren’t going to have rank. “I think there’s a difference,” Schneps said. “And sometimes it comes down to verbiage used between hierarchy and the everyday-to-day execution of the role. Somebody has to be chief, second stew, and third stew. But we’re all a team, right? We all will help each other out and do each other’s work.”

“That’s kind of the way that I interpreted that conversation,” she said. “I always have those conversations when I join a boat when I’m briefing my crew as well. There’s a hierarchy just because, that’s just the way yacht jobs are. But we’re all a team.”

But on Below Deck Adventure, “It wasn’t made clear that [Clarke wasn’t] giving out positions,” she said. “Like I said, I joined very much under the impression that I was second stew.”

Are Oriana and Faye able to move beyond the epaulet issue?

The last Below Deck Adventure episode ended with Clarke fuming at Schneps. Do they work it out? Or will this cause tension for the season?

“I guess I didn’t understand her reaction because she thought I was trying to do that behind her back,” she said. “I kind of initially thought that she didn’t realize the epaulets were wrong and that’s why she was confused. Like, I genuinely thought it was confusion from her side rather than she felt betrayed or anything like that.”

“So once I sort of understood that, I was really shocked,” Schneps admitted. “This was a really hard thing for me to watch, especially because my version of the situation was just so vastly different than how that played out from her perspective. I think it was a big misunderstanding in the end. And her and I, we’re still really close today and we’ve kind of talked about it and we’re good.”

Where are Oriana and Faye today in their friendship after ‘Below Deck Adventure’?

Schneps insisted there was no malice behind the epaulet issue and she and Clarke talked. “It’s definitely a situation that’s really uncomfortable at this point in the season, right?” she said. “I think on both of our sides, we realized that there was a miscommunication. I wasn’t under the impression that it was a conversation that was up for debate.”

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“And then I realize that she’s seeing it from this other light,” she said about Clarke. “But I think that’s the beauty of when you actually are professionals and you really do respect each other as you are able to kind of move past these things and smash it together. We had an awesome season. We traveled together afterward and are still friends to this day. Like, she’s an incredible person. And, you know, just because there’s one little hiccup, that doesn’t mean a whole professional career together should be compromised.”

Below Deck Adventure is on Tuesday at 9 pm ET on Bravo.