‘Below Deck Down Under’ Crew Bonds: Tumi Became a Favorite This Season – ‘She’s Amazing’ [Exclusive]

Every now and then a Below Deck cast member becomes a breakout favorite amongst the crew and Below Deck Down Under second stew Tumi Mhlongo definitely seems to be that person.

Mhlongo’s can-do attitude and easy-going disposition quickly warmed her to the crew. But also the fact that she refused to tolerate rudeness from any crew member, not to mention her iconic table decor, allowed her to shine in the new series. Some of Mhlongo’s Below Deck Down Under crew members raved about working with her to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. But the positive comments weren’t confined to Down Under, because Gabriela Barragan from Below Deck Sailing Yacht is also a big fan of Mhlongo’s.

‘Below Deck Down Under’ crew loved working with Tumi

Chief stew Aesha Scott told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she was impressed with Mhlongo‘s raw talent and gumption. “She’s amazing,” she recalled. “At that point in six months of experience, you would think she’d had years. She is so naturally capable because she just has common sense. She’s got initiative, she gets it.”

Below Deck Down Under crew member Tumi Mhlongo talks to a guest
Tumi Mhlongo | Peacock

Below Deck Down Under viewers also watched Mhlongo and deckhand Brittini Burton’s friendship grow. Burton said Mhlongo is definitely a close friend today. “It’s so amazing to see our friendship slowly emerge,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Because we met on the boat. So we’re genuinely friends and I just talked to her on the phone yesterday. We text like every day and so I have so much gratitude that it was filmed and to watch our friendship grow.”

“The first time that you actually witness our friendship was when she came and hugged me and I like, cried. And I’m just so lucky,” she recalled. “Aesha even said this to us the other day, it was like she chose who lives with each other and she’s just like, I’m so happy that I chose that you and Tumi live together. It could have been anyone, right? So we’re both so grateful that we were roommates and we were able to have such a loving connection.”

Gabriela Barragan almost worked with Tumi on ‘Below Deck Down Under’

Barragan told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she was nearly cast on Below Deck Down Under. “I met Tumi a couple of years ago when she was hosting a podcast called Diversity in Yachting,” Barragan recalled. And added that she and Mhlongo would make a great team. “Tumi and I would kill it. Either of us can be chief or second stew and we would both easily work well together.”

Barragan was originally supposed to replace Magda Ziomek on Below Deck Down Under. “But I was locked into another contract and couldn’t go, so they put me on Below Deck Sailing Yacht instead,” she explained. Mhlongo asked Barragan to guest host her podcast while she was filming Below Deck Down Under. And when Barragan was a guest, she and Mhlongo addressed the real and important question of diversity in yachting.

Tumi got along with everyone on the ‘Below Deck Down Under’ crew

Mhlongo had a good relationship with everyone on the boat, including chef Ryan McKeown. She also really enjoyed working for Scott. “I think Aesha and I complement each other, and I think she also made me extremely comfortable because Aesha really couldn’t give a s***,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “So having her there just calmed my nerves a little bit. And it was good to have a leader like that. You can say how you feel and just be yourself.” Adding, “She’s hilarious.”

She was also one of the only Below Deck Down Under crew members who would hand it back to McKeown when he was being snarky. “I just like to keep the peace when a chef is involved,” she explained. “Sometimes you just have to find a way to keep the peace because you don’t want a situation like you are butting heads with the chef. It just doesn’t make our lives easier and I like to have my life as easy as possible. So, you know, you kind of have to learn to work with the people.”

Mhlongo also enjoyed Ziomek even though she spent more time texting her boyfriend than working. “To be honest, Madga, she’s so good for crew morale,” she said. “And sometimes that’s really needed on the boat. Like yes, we can have three strong stews or whatever the case is, and then one is an a**hole and doesn’t speak to everyone. But you have to have fun in yachting.”