Does ‘Below Deck’ Encourage Unqualified Crew to Join the Industry?

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In recent casting calls for Below Deck, producers sought crew members who could “work well under pressure (or not, it just makes for good tv).” And only “some charter experience preferred” for two senior-level positions.

While seeing the bosun or chief stew lose it on the show may make for gripping television, do casting calls like this encourage people who may not be qualified for the yachting industry to join? The Cheat Sheet asked Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean about how industry charters differ from those seen on Below Deck. She said that the show does provide a platform for a little greener crew. Plus charters were shorter than what is typical in the industry.

Other captains have expressed concern about the influence Below Deck has on the industry. And that viewers at home may think the job is one long hookup and party. What do captains want potential crew members to know?

Gossiping about charter guests is frowned upon

Below Deck encourages the crew to dish about the guests in a confessional interview. Most guests take the comments in stride. But others get pretty unhappy when they see what the crew says about them. Charles Michael Yim was a charter guest and took to social media to blast the show and the crew. He insists his group didn’t make for exciting television. So Bravo “tried to cast me in a different light which comes at the risk of ‘reality tv.’”

One captain told The Triton, “And we have potential charter guests who are saying, ‘Are these crew talking smack about me behind my back, making fun of me the whole time I’m paying copious amounts of money to be on this vessel?’”

Only hard workers should apply

While it may be editing, Below Deck can show some crew members really slacking off. Former bosun Chandler Brooks was often portrayed as a napper who loved ice cream a little more than his job. Portrayals like this alarm some captains. “People don’t get into this to serve people and wash the boat,” a captain told The Triton. “Within the first week, they curb their own enthusiasm. You want to get in the hot tub? Guess what, you have to clean the hot tub.” Another captain pipped up adding, “And the tender and the Jet Skis.”

Yawn told The Cheat Sheet crew members who want to advance in this industry should check their ego too. “You can’t have a chip on your shoulder in this industry,” she says. “You are working with the 1% or higher and they expect exceptional service.”

It isn’t one big party

While bosun Conrad Empson from Below Deck Med told The Cheat Sheet the crew likes to party, it isn’t as often on an actual charter. “The charters on Below Deck were short so we’d go out more often,” he said. “It’s normal to do right after a charter. And drinking generally seems to be what you do.”

But yacht captains worry that’s what outsiders (who want in) think the industry is all about. “It has brought a lot of people into yachting that think it is nothing more than a big party,” one captain told The Triton. “We got backpacking kids coming from Idaho thinking they can come have sex in the hot tub for a year between college.”

Plus captains worry crew thinks being a hot mess equates to a good tip. “They see envelopes full of hundred dollar bills being handed out after what looks like a sex- and drug-fueled week,” another captain said. “They think this is the best job ever.”

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