‘Below Deck Med’ Episode Becomes a Painful Reminder of Addiction

Work hard, play hard. That seems to be the yachtie’s mantra on Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean. When the crew isn’t on charter they are often at one of the local watering holes blowing off steam.

Some crew members go hard. Really, really hard. While a number of crew members were filmed tying one on, a recent episode of Below Deck Med featured the darker side of the hard-partying life.

Ross Inia, Rhylee Gerber, Kate Chastain, Josiah Carter, Ashton Pienaar, Laura Betancourt, Adrian Martin
Ross Inia, Rhylee Gerber, Kate Chastain, Josiah Carter, Ashton Pienaar, Laura Betancourt, Adrian Martin | Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Lead deckhand Travis Michalzik was filmed getting so drunk he’s being practically carried to a waiting van by chef Ben Robinson. After a prior incident, Michalzik insisted he was going to curb his drinking but then goes even further than ever before.

On a path to self-destruction

Like most nights off charter, the crew goes out to party. Although Michalzik claimed he was going to back off from drinking too much, he decides to go in the completely opposite direction. He seems annoyed that chief stew Hannah Ferrier harps on him about drinking too much.

As the crew sits at the bar, bosun João Franco and Robinson observe the crew having cocktails. Franco sees Michalzik continuing to drink and says to Robinson, “Travis is on one path,” he says to Robinson, who is just now getting to know the crew. “And it’s destruction tonight, I can see it.” Robinson responds, “Really?” as the turns to see what his occurring.

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It's hot as heck on this deck. (: @colin_macyotoole)

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Cameras then capture Michalzik sucking down drink after drink. He gets so inebriated he can hardly sit up and falls to the floor. Robinson admits he’s been hammered on a number of times (flashback to drunk Ben). But adds, “There’s drunk and then there’s Travis drunk.”

Robinson practically carries Michalzik to the awaiting van where he pours the deckhand into a seat. “I was looking forward to blowing off some steam and actually familiarizing myself with my new crew,” Robinson says in a confessional interview. “But apparently I’m their bloody babysitter.”

Hard-partying is common in the industry

Hard-partying is common in the industry as at least half of a Dockwalk survey said they go hard when they are off charter. While some crew members may party hard, not everyone has a problem with alcohol.

However, one crew member told Dockwalk, “I think some [crew members] do. There’s no doubt about that, but I find that the people in the industry who’ve been around the longest know how to handle their alcohol – people in their thirties and forties who really want to make a career out of yachting. It’s the young twenty-something kids that are out drinking too.”

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Monday's #BelowDeckMed will leave you shaking!

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One yacht captain thinks there may be a problem with drinking too much.  “Personally, I do think crew drink too much,” he said. “It’s become part of the accepted culture. It seems that quite a lot of crew spend their downtime drinking. Our crew [on MITseaAH] are very athletic. We like to go mountain biking and do watersports and take advantage of what we have. I try to organize things like that for them.” 

Both ‘Below Deck’ captains have been touched by addiction

Captain Sandy Yawn shared her story of addiction with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. She believes addiction could have ruined her life as a young adult. “I was a mess,” she shared. “By the grace of God, I’m alive. No matter how much money you have, it’s not going to save your life if you are an addict or an alcoholic. And I was a major addict and alcoholic.”

Sadly, Captain Lee Rosbach from Below Deck recently lost his son Joshua to addiction. “After a twenty year struggle, he finally succumbed to the demons he fought so long and so hard,” Rosbach shared. “Addiction is an insidious disease that knows no social status or geographic boundaries.” 

During the recent Below Deck Med episode, Rosbach tweeted, “Travis, calling you an alcoholic is like calling the Pope Catholic. Seriously. Watch the footage.” But when a follower asked for empathy for Michalzik a fan reminded the Twitterverse of what Rosbach recently endured. He added, “People who have not lived it say the dumbest things.”