‘Below Deck’: Some Yacht Jobs Are Taking a Hit Due to the Pandemic

Some yachties are losing work due to the global pandemic. Tiffany Copeland from Below Deck Mediterranean tweeted, “It must be getting bad. I just got let go from my job.”

She added that she was freelancing as a mate, but the full-time crew still has a job. But Bobby Giancola also from Below Deck Med recently told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that a previously planned charter was canceled. “I was supposed to go on a two week trip to the Bahamas and they canceled,” he said.

Paget Berry, Parker McCown
Paget Berry, Parker McCown | Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Paget Berry and girlfriend Ciara Duggan from Below Deck Sailing Yacht are currently in Italy where the coronavirus hit hard. The pair appear to still be working. “Unfortunately Ciara and I are not in quarantine in Bali Indonesia😅, but we are currently working in Italy on a boat where the Coronavirus has hit the hardest in Europe so far. Everything is in lockdown, bars, restaurants, gyms, you name it, it’s shut! Current routine is work, washing hands, work, washing hands, work, you get the point! So don’t be selfish and get back in your house😂🙏🏼,” Berry shared on Instagram.

Yacht bookings are down but not out

Captain Timothy Laughridge told The Triton that yacht bookings have dipped. “It’s not a good year to mention bookings with the coronavirus,” he said. Captain Glen Allen, president of Fleet Miami said the company is still waiting to make some decisions based on how the pandemic plays out. “We’re talking about not sending Harle for the first time in 11 years,” he said. M/Y Harle is a 146-foot Feadship.

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However, he notes that many pre-planned charters still set sail. “The charterers went ahead with their trip,” he said. “Lots of guests are coming in on private jets. That is important to note.”

Laughridge said many people seek a safe harbor on a yacht. “One of the safest places to be away from people – isolated on a yacht. How they get here could be a challenge. The problem is there are too many unknowns and changes in travel rules.”

Industry experts are optimistic

Unlike cruise ships, the yachting industry is an entirely different animal. Allen shares that the industry has fared well during other major economic downturns like the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 recession, and numerous hurricanes. “Proper planning prevents panic, as always,” he told The Triton. “In those terms, we aim to stay positive. Yes. it’s bad, but it will get better.”

“The argument is always made, ‘Why are the rich spending on yachting?’ ” he said. “The reality is, if they don’t, they kill jobs. Each yacht employs many people, directly and indirectly. We need to support them. If we keep pounding on this, maybe people will understand that. This is not just using ritzy boats. It means jobs in so many communities.”

Patrick Kelly from Lauderdale Marine Center says the small footprint the industry serves will likely benefit the industry. “We have such a porous industry – crew go home on vacation, we have every nationality. The thing that gives me hope in the industry is that most vessels are not in contact with large numbers of the general population,” he remarked. “Yachts can control, to a large part, the extent of their exposure. It is primarily crew, owners and vendors. Most are clean, they’re clean to a fault, and that helps tremendously.”