‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ Boat Crash: Gary King Describes Historic Collision as Scariest of His Career (Exclusive)
He went into detail with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about what he and the crew experienced, what he was feeling, and the fallout from what is considered to be the worst boat crash in Below Deck history. Despite saving the day when the boat went dead and began slamming against the dock, King says he’s no hero. In fact, he said he’s embarrassed the entire debacle was caught on video. “You can’t make this stuff up!” he exclaimed during an exclusive interview. “And I always believe that things come in threes,” so he anticipated more was coming after the huge collision. Adding that the crash was “100%” the most outrageous thing to happen to him in yachting.
Why was the ‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ in trouble the first time?
King walked Showbiz Cheat Sheet through the day, starting with why the crew suddenly decided they had to move the sailing yacht away from the dock. “We were in Split, Croatia at that time and we didn’t have any mooring lines on the bow of the boat,” he recalled.
“So we had our anchors out and it’s very polluted,” he described. “And what happened is the anchor was dragging on some plastic or something, so it wasn’t holding up. And in the strong wind, the anchors weren’t doing anything and it literally just pushed us straight onto the dock, which shouldn’t normally happen. But I mean, you can’t stop anything like that because it happened so fast.”
He said the boat losing power was a total game-changer. “Oh, God yeah, that’s the last thing you want, right?” he said. Unfortunately, chief engineer Colin Macrae was running an errand in town so it was up to King to figure out the fractured electrical system.
“So I threw myself in the deep end, but I pretty much had to figure it out within a few minutes,” he said. “Otherwise, we could have dragged more into the dock. Yeah, good thing I figured it out in the time that I did to be quite honest.”
The scenario was as intense as it can get. But King said he never panicked. “That’s the worst thing to do is panic,” he said. “So I thought what do we need in order to get us off the dock? So to get off that dock safely, we needed a thruster, a bow stern thruster. And for that to happen we just had to get these generators going.”
Both ‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ collisions could have ended the season
The first incident resulted in the boat getting scratched, and Captain Glenn Shephard looked relieved. The first incident “could have been a season-ending,” King said.
He also credits his deck team for working so well together during the crisis. “Everyone who took part in that maneuver and the fact that everyone did it so well,” he remarked. “I think maybe I’m a bit hard on the crew, but at times like that when they react so well, it was good that I was a bit harsh. So I take my hat off to J.L. [Jean-Luc Cerza Lanaux] and Sydney [Zaruba] for stepping up their game. They hadn’t been in a situation like that. Neither have I.”
And while the team was able to rally during the first collision, they were all rendered helpless during the second, more powerful crash. King estimates the boat was traveling about six miles per hour when it smashed into the concrete. And while six miles per hour may not sound fast, King said the force of the Parsifal and the winds made way for the boat’s force to crush the dock.
The ‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ crew still doesn’t know why the boat malfunctioned
Macrae was on board when the Parsifal III came in for that fateful docking. He recently shared on Instagram that the team still doesn’t know why the boat malfunctioned.
King said he was simply stunned when the boat smashed into the dock, adding that the crash was the worst thing he’s experienced in his career. “I mean, you know, no one wins,” he shared. “It’s no one’s fault, you know, and it’s just one of those times where we’re all human. We make mistakes. It just doesn’t look good on anyone’s part, really. But as long as no one was hurt in the long run. And that’s all that counts.”
“But I mean, accidents happen,” he continued. “And I think we can just learn from it and try to never make that mistake again. But it’s just something you almost want to forget about. And the fact that it was recorded made it even more difficult to see! Just push it under the rug and I’m like, oh gosh, this is awful. I thought maybe my radio wasn’t working and is it my fault? And again, thinking the blame is yours. But yeah, I mean, unfortunately, we don’t know what the problem is. I mean, we would like to. So we can avoid that happening again.”
While King said no one was to blame for the crash, Shephard told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in an earlier interview that he takes full responsibility. “Ultimately, I’m the responsible person involved there,” he said. “But there was a malfunction involved.”
“I was telling the boat to do one thing and it wasn’t responding in the correct way,” he added. “There was a throttle malfunction. There are computers involved in the throttle controls and the propeller and it’s balancing the load on the engine. And I may have over-stressed it or something and it couldn’t respond. Unfortunately, I had too much momentum.”