‘Below Deck Med’: Captain Sandy Shares What to Do If Your Crew Suspects a Guest Has Drugs on Board

Chief stew Jenna MacGillivray and deckhand Chris Miller from Below Deck Sailing Yacht both suspect a charter guest is doing illegal drugs on the boat. They bring their suspicions to Captain Glenn Shephard who is put in a tough position — what do you do when no drugs are found but the crew is suspicious?

Previews show Shephard going through the guest’s belongings as the primary looks nervous. Another clip shows the guest confronting Shephard telling him his luxury yacht vacation has now been ruined.

Captain Sandy Yawn from 'Below Deck Mediterranean'
Captain Sandy Yawn |Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

So did the crew get it wrong? Crew members have shared that the captain can go to jail and the crew can lose their license. Illegal drugs brought on board a yacht are serious business. But what happens if no drugs are found and what is the best way to handle this extremely delicate situation?

Showbiz Cheat Sheet asked Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean how most yacht captains handle similar situations. As someone who has been in the industry for 30 years, Yawn said she’s encountered her fair share of guests trying to bring drugs on board. She said illegal drugs on board are very serious and should not be tolerated.

However, she said there is a certain level of finesse yacht captains must deploy to walk that fine line between remaining lawful, while still respecting the guest’s privacy.

Start with the primary

Yawn said simply having a suspicion of drugs on board makes an accusation tricky. During Below Deck season 1, stew Kat Held actually found illegal drugs sitting on a guest’s end table during turndowns. That made Captain Lee Rosbach’s decision pretty straightforward and easy (he removed the guests immediately).

However, what is the best approach when you suspect a guest has drugs? “Just go to the primary,” Yawn shared. “I don’t address the person with the drugs unless it is the primary. I just pull them aside and let them know the ultimate goal is for you to enjoy your friends and enjoy the charter. I’m not here to be a joy kill.”

She knows people do drugs and the guest simply can’t have them on board. “So then I’ll just say, ‘Can you please go talk to your friends and take the drugs off the boat?’ That’s how I talk to them and they’re usually really cool about it.”

She won’t search a guest’s belongings either

While Yawn acknowledges the seriousness of bringing illegal drugs on board, she’s not going to dig through the guest’s private belongings. “I would never go through the client’s stuff,” she insists. “Taking someone’s personal stuff? You can’t go through someone’s stuff.”

She returns to the notion of having a rational conversation with the primary. Let them know drugs on board is a violation of maritime law, but make the guests still feel comfortable and avoid admonishing them. “How you handle it is really the difference,” Yawn continues. “It’s how you address it.”


‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’: Paget Berry Says Illegal Drugs on Board Means the Captain Could Go to Jail

She adds that she’s not here to judge the guests. She and the crew are here to ensure the guests have a wonderful charter but within the parameters of maritime law.

And Yawn insists it can be accomplished with the right approach. “Remember, as the captain you’re not the boss of [the guests],” she says. ‘You’re the boss of the boat. If the client does things that endanger the boat or the crew, then you go, ‘OK, these are the things I’m in charge of,’ but I address it with the principal client. And you don’t go through anyone’s stuff.” The Below Deck Sailing Yacht season finale is on Monday, May 25 at 9/8c on Bravo.

Below Deck Mediterranean season 5 premieres on Monday, June 1 at 9/8c on Bravo.