‘Below Deck Med:’ What Do Yacht Captains Really Think About Crew Romances?

Below Deck Mediterranean and Below Deck have had its share of crew romances on charter. Coupling on charter is almost inevitable with close working and living conditions. In fact, 96% of yacht captains surveyed by The Triton said they’ve worked with a yacht couple.

Captain Sandy Yawn and Captain Lee Rosbach have both dealt with crew romances during their seasons on the show. Last year on Below Deck Med, bosun Conrad Empson and chief stew Hannah Ferrier had a yacht romance. Their relationship often interfered with their focus at work. And had Yawn at her wit’s end.

C.J. Lebeau, Samantha Orme |Photo by Ali Goodwin/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Crew romances that interfere with work is a huge problem. But are all crew couplings a bad thing? The Triton survey showed not only how many captains have worked with crew couples, but how they feel about charter romances.

Does a crew couple change the dynamics on board?

Below Deck often shows how couples can cause friction with the crew. But the captains surveyed by The Triton found that couples were actually a positive influence on charter.

“Couples tend to be more settled and disciplined,” one yacht captain said with 25 years in the industry. “They are usually better behaved and mature. The singles are out late, seeking social interaction, whereas couples tend to be less pressed to go out and be part of ‘the chase’.”

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Many captains found crew couples to be fine. But some found the same trouble Yawn and Rosbach have encountered on the show. “At times, we have had unnecessary problems from one or the other part of a team,” another captain said who had 30 years of experience in the industry. “These same type of problems can come from individual team members but they’re easier to deal with, causing less crew (or captain) tension.”

More captains don’t have a specific policy on yacht romances

Close to 60% of the respondents said they don’t have a set policy on whether or not the crew can become romantically involved with each other.

Although many don’t have a set rule, it doesn’t mean captains don’t have an opinion. “No rules, but it rarely works to have a new relationship on a working boat,” one captain said. “The couple is just beginning to work out their own power balance, all the while trying to be in the boat’s power structure.”

Even if the boat has a rule, it isn’t likely to be enforced. “I once worked on a boat that prohibited it, but that rule did not stop anyone from hooking up,” another captain admitted. “Two couples are now happily married and the girls (who left on their own) found shore-based employment.”

At least half have a policy about behavior above deck

Even if there is no specific rule about hookups, at least 51% of the captains have rules about the couple’s behavior while on charter. One rule is pretty obvious. “No PDA in front of guests and not in front of crew during working hours,” one captain said.

Another captain echoed this sentiment. “A little affection around just the crew is OK, but expect full professional behavior when owners, guests, brokers, or subcontractors are around.”

Captains who don’t have a policy will still address certain behavior if it becomes problematic. “Not officially but if PDA causes a problem, it is immediately addressed as would any other activity that makes someone feel uncomfortable,” one captain remarked.