Captain Sandy from ‘Below Deck Med’ Shares What it Takes to Make It In Yachting

Captain Sandy Yawn | Captain Sandy Yawn Twitter

Below Deck features crew members who either travel up the ranks or plummet into obscurity. Some cast members start at a lower rank on the show, but return with more authority, which begs the question: What does it take to make it in yachting?

Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean told The Cheat Sheet what she looks for in a rising star crew member. Because Yawn revealed that the kid she was is lightyears from the rock star captain viewers see on the show. “I wasn’t a good kid,” she says. “I didn’t go to college and I meandered from thing to thing.” But what gave her that push was drive. “I was always a driven person,” she says. “I think you are born with drive. Walk with a purpose. Pick up your feet.”

And while having drive is one characteristic Yawn says she looks for other characteristics in successful crew members. Plus she explains why she is always willing to teach her crew.

Get out of your comfort zone

One part of Yawn’s day includes trying to move away from her comfort zone and try something new. Or even make a commitment to do something she doesn’t want to do. “I have a pile of papers to get through and I’ve been putting it off,” she says. “But I made a commitment to just bang it out and set aside three hours to do it. You have to make that time to get it done.”

Which means doing things that may scare you too, Yawn says. Even though it takes effort, trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone will ultimately pay off. “If things come fast and easy, they don’t last. Slow and steady wins the race. I heard a guy say recently when I do things that I don’t want to do I feel amazing and feel like I accomplished something.”

A good attitude will get you everywhere

One particular crew member in a recent season of Below Deck Med stood out for Yawn. “Here’s what I did with Joao [Franco],” Yawn explains. “I knew he wanted to be a yacht captain. I looked at him while filming and I got it. I didn’t know about Jezebob [his drunk alter ego] I didn’t see any of that. But what I saw was a guy who was very gracious and grateful and hungry for information. He was constantly asking questions and constantly on the bridge.” 

Also, crew members with a bad attitude or who think they know it all should reconsider their approach. “You can’t have a chip on your shoulder in this industry,” Yawn says. “You are working with the 1% or higher and they expect exceptional service.”

You’ll also get ahead if you have a sense of humor and know how to quickly diffuse conflict. Yawn says deckhand Malia White was an amazing example of how to diffuse an awkward situation. “I liked how she walked into a room and knew people were talking about her and would say what is it you want to know,” she says. “Plus, she also has a great sense of humor. So does Joao. And those are qualities leaders should have.”

Stay connected and start small

Yawn continued to work with Franco, even after Below Deck Med stopped filming. “After we finished filming I told Joao you got this and had him dock the boat,” Yawn recalls. Then Yawn connected Franco with his first job as a yacht captain on a smaller boat.

Your best bet is to start on a smaller boat. “Advancement on big boats also takes longer,” she says. “Get on a small boat. Like Bobby. Bobby is on a small boat. Joao is on a small boat, start small. Work your ass off and learn the business. While on a small boat, go to class, start getting your courses. Then likely the owner will go to a bigger boat.” And take you along for the ride.

Yawn says she could have also helped White get a job too. “Before Malia left I told her, you will make an excellent captain,” Yawn says. But White didn’t keep in touch with Yawn. But now she sees that Yawn hooked up Franco so she’s reaching out. So stay in touch with the people who can help you.

Work with someone who will teach you

Yawn wants to teach her crew because she once worked for a captain who was too paranoid to let her get next to the helm. “So I said I will never do that,” she said. “He’d never let me drive the boat. And if someone doesn’t teach them how to be, who will?”

“I’m a great teacher because I had a hard time learning,” Yawn reveals. “I look at the person and see what they respond to, especially on a boat. And try to inspire, teach and encourage them.”

She also uses her dog as a pathway to teaching. “I love swimming and I want that dog to swim with me. I don’t throw the dog into the swimming pool and see if the dog drowns or swims. What I do is to go get another dog that knows how to swim to teach the other dog to swim.”

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