‘Below Deck:’ What Are Some of the Most Shocking Superyacht Accidents?

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Below Deck viewers recently saw how dangerous it can be to work on a superyacht. Deckhand Ashton Pienaar nearly lost his life after being dragged off the boat by a rope wound around his ankle.

The accident left the entire cast and crew completely shook, especially Captain Lee Rosbach. Rosbach said, “We weren’t from 30 seconds of him dying and I have to call his parents and tell them their son is dead. And I’m responsible. I don’t know how I’d deal with that. I have kids. And I don’t know how I’d make that call.”

Thankfully for Pienaar, a production crew member freed the deckhand from the rope’s death grip, saving his life. But some crew members aren’t as lucky on other vessels. In fact, accidents and even deaths are common on superyachts, The Guardian reports. Union leaders told The Guardian that working on a superyacht is more dangerous than working on an oil rig.

These crew members died

Deckhand Jacob Nichol fell to his death while cleaning the deck on a yacht, The Guardian reports. Nicol was hanging in a harness, often seen on Below Deck when he dropped and fractured his skull. Another crew member was thought to have been knocked from a small boat he was driving. Will Black was a bosun and went missing after last being seen on the smaller vessel. However, no formal search was conducted for Black and his family was left in the dark.

Also, Rebecca Boyle, a stewardess died after falling down a flight of stairs. She suffered a fatal head injury after drinking during the World Cup, Boat International reports.

Danny McGowan is the strategic organizer of seafarers’ union, Nautilus International. He revealed to The Guardian that superyacht owners see the crew was “dispensable and replaceable.” And unlike how Rosbach reacted to the accident on My Seanna, don’t care about crew members’ families. “Often an owner feels they can just get a new third engineer, rather than thinking of the consequences for the individual,” he says. “We’re not here to be up against these billionaires. We want to work with them to make employment in this industry better.”

Onboard fires were devastating

Captain Sandy Yawn and Rosbach have dealt with near-miss fires on charter. Yawn especially became very upset when chief stew Hannah Ferrier set off fire alarms with sparkler candles for a guest’s birthday. But she had good reason because an onboard fire can be devastating.

Superyacht Kanga suffered a devastating fire during the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2018, Boat International reports. No one was injured but the vessel suffered serious damage. Shortly after Kanga’s fire, a blaze broke out on superyacht Lalibela. The fire trashed the deck and interior cabins, but thankfully the two passengers evacuated safely.

Mother Nature took her toll on these yachts

There is usually nothing to be done when storms threaten but batten down the hatches. A storm on the Northern Italian coast, left a good number of yachts either submerged or extremely damaged. High wind, heavy rains, and waves that reached over 32 feet knocked the vessels around like toys.

Also, Hurricane Irma completely destroyed a number of yachts in the Carribean, which is likely why Below Deck ventured into new territory.

And theft brought this yacht to her knees

Accidents are hard enough, but what about the damage that is done purposely to a yacht? In 2016, a 24-meter yacht was stolen from the Miami Beach Marina. The thief likely didn’t know how to man the vessel as he crashed it into six other boats. The driver jumped into the ocean to avoid arrest. And while thankfully, no one was hurt, the boat sustained significant damage.

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