‘Below Deck’: How Does the Crew Prep the Yacht for Charter?
Below Deck often shows crew members preparing the boat for the next group of charter guests. Viewers often see stews doing (endless) laundry and cleaning cabins. Meanwhile, deckhands are polishing and washing the deck.
Crew members have shared on the show that it takes a few days to “flip” or prepare the yacht for the next group of charter guests. This may include ordering and receiving provisions, especially based on the guests’ preference lists. Plus, the crew may need to make arrangements or accommodations for the next group.
The crew certainly takes a night off to party and cut loose. But the following morning, it is back to work as most crews can’t afford to allow much downtime in between charters.
The ‘to-do’ list is neverending
According to yachtie Julie Perry, preparing the boat for charter guests can be a never-ending. “Each item crossed off your ‘to do’ list is inevitably replaced by another, and you can count on the fact that at least one crewmember will exhibit symptoms of a last-minute panic,” Perry wrote on Work on a Yacht.
Even though the crew may be a little overwhelmed, Perry says people rally. “You might expect all this rushing around to wear the crew down and cause them fatigue, but quite often, just the opposite is true. I personally found the team-wide commotion to be exhilarating. task.”
She compares the scene to what it may be like getting ready to perform a Broadway play. “It is rather like being backstage the night of a big Broadway production debut. The runners that have been down on all the carpets to protect them when no guests are onboard all come up. (Under the beds is where many of them get stored.) Once those are up, the boat feels much more open and alive. You can feel the carpet under your feet, hand-woven and soft, so clean that light reflects off the fibers.”
Preparation is nonstop
Perry describes the typical scene during preparation. “The deckhands are arranging seat cushions on the outside decks. The chef is in the galley handling food preparations: The smells of bread and pastry dough, boiling chicken and beef stock, sauces of several varieties, and an array of spicy scents fills up the entire main deck—it always reminded me of Christmas morning.”
Work doesn’t stop when the sun sets. In fact, the crew seems to work well into the night. “The deck lights come on as the entire crew works into the night,” Perry wrote. “The deckhands are putting finishing touches on their polishing and varnishing work. They remove any final fingerprints off the rails, dirt out of the scuppers (holes pierced in a boat’s deck to allow surplus water to drain off), and scratches from the teak to get the yacht sparkling with cleanliness. Inside, the china is being washed, the silver polished, and the guest linens pressed and stored. Every light switch is tested and every inch of the interior double-checked for dust. A shipment of lobsters is to be delivered at midnight.”
Each crew area plays music as they work too. They likely need something to keep them going as Perry notes the crew will usually only get about five hours of sleep. “With only five hours of sleep, the entire crew is up early the next morning to assist with carrying 15 fresh flower displays and four new deck trees from the florist’s delivery van onto the boat. Next, the beverage delivery arrives: The crew forms a human chain up the passerelle to hand off case after case of beer and soda, bottled water and fruit juices, and dozens of bottles of fine wine. The yacht is gleaming, the champagne is chilling, and the crowds on the dock are staring.”
Below Deck viewers see the crew working until the very last minute. Perry shares that this is pretty typical too. “Then, just when you’ve finished potting that last-minute tree on the aft deck, a call comes over the radio that the boss’s plane has just landed and he and his entourage will be there shortly. You manage to shower and be on deck just two minutes before they step on—fresh plant soil still beneath your fingernails as you shake the owner’s hand, and with a beaming smile and an energetic voice, say, ‘Welcome aboard, Sir.'”