Former ‘Below Deck’ Crew Member Reveals How Bad Bullying Can Get in the Industry

The Below Deck reunion brought workplace harassment and bullying front and center. Rumors that swirled around the morning third stew, Caroline Bedol left My Seanna were confirmed during the reunion.

Bedol alleged that chief stew Kate Chastain and second stew Josiah Carter harassed her while she waited in her cabin to tell Captain Lee Rosbach she was leaving. During the reunion, host Andy Cohen played a previously unseen clip of Chastain and Carter taunting Bedol outside her closed door, alleging the third stew was leaving due to a herpes infection.

Although Chastain and Carter said they regretted the moment, they asserted that Bedol’s inability to do her job pushed them to the breaking point. The rest of the crew, for the most part, backed Chastain and Carter’s assertion, including Captain Lee Rosbach.

Fans turn on the team

While some fans backed Chastain and Rosbach, others were in disbelief. Many social media messages conveyed that bullying, no matter what is never acceptable. Others expressed disappointment in Rosbach for not punishing Chastain for the behavior.

Rosbach pushed back and responded to a number of tweets, many have since been removed. While Rosbach did not support how Chastain handled the situation, he wasn’t going to admonish her. Plus, he reiterated several times, that Bedol’s performance was problematic. One person simply wanted Rosbach to acknowledge that Chastain was wrong. “Can you say ‘Kate was not professional and Kate was wrong?’ 2nd and 3rd stews shouldn’t be subject to verbal beat downs no matter how irritated the Chief Stew is. Everyone can move on if you admit it. She did not manage her people.”

However, Rosbach responded, “So, let me get this right, superiors should be subjected to all the abuse they can handle n more and then have no recourse n if they don’t deal with it in the fashion you feel they should it’s all on them. Not going to happen. Sorry, glad you voiced your thoughts, I don’t agree.”

This ‘Below Deck’ alum sounds the alarm

Below Deck alum, deckhand Bruno Duarte took to Twitter to applaud Cohen for shining a light on the situation. “#BelowDeck reunion was a joke… so many excuses for what’s so obvious,” he wrote. “I have no words. Happy for @Andy for actually calling the bad stuff out. Impressive to watch everyone covering each other asses. Bullying is bullying period.”

It’s no secret that Duarte has an extremely contentious relationship with Chastain. After their season wrapped the two got into a nasty public Twitter feud and Chastain ended up blocking Duarte.

Some followers claimed Duarte was just siding with Bedol. However, he insists there is no room for bullying regardless of Bedol’s performance. When one person commented that Chastain actually did a great job, Duarte shot back. “Thats a right job? Making fun of someone herpes and playing with C mind. What she needed there was the opposite. A chat and compassion…”

He also says bullying sometimes comes to this

In the same thread, Duarte asserted that some crew members have ended their life due to bullying. “Like I said, regardless the issues that was happening between them, thats a work place and bullying a unstable crew member isnt right. Like i said before, i saw crew on Cruises committing suicide because of that kind of attitude. Thats not right.”

Bullying is not that uncommon on yachts, according to Onboard Online. In fact, Lynne Edwards, Interior Training Manager at Abacus & March told the publication, bullying is most common from the chief stew. “The pressure on a chief stewardess is enormous- but you don’t need to bully people,” she said. “In the quiet moments,  that doesn’t make anyone feel good- those chief stews have ruined the working relationship-and inherently, they know it. And it takes guts to say that you are wrong.  And many people will just continue bullying rather than admit they were wrong in the first place.”

At least 72% of superyacht crew members deal with mental health issues with most confirming they felt alone and without support, Yacht Harbour reports.  “I think there is a general attitude within the superyacht industry that you must simply get on with the job,” former chief stew Kylie O’Brien said. “If you can’t handle the pressures of being a professional seafarer, then perhaps you need a break (which typically means you’re out of a job).”

The ‘old school’ attitude prevails

When it comes to mental health on yachts, the notion of “suck it up buttercup” seems to be the running theme. “I’m not at all surprised by the number of crew struggling with mental health issues,” Alison Rentoul, crew performance engineer at The Crew Coach told Yacht Harbour. “I believe that there is still an ‘old school’ attitude within the industry.”

“Having met and spoken with many superyacht crew over the years, it’s clear their jobs can be very stressful and sympathy is not typically a forthcoming emotion with the fast pace nature of this business,” Michelle Williams, website and digital marketing manager at Yachting Pages Media Group said.

Plus, many crew members don’t feel comfortable going to the captain when they are stressed out. “It’s difficult to complain to the captain if you feel stressed, lonely or overworked during charter, when it’s exactly what is expected when you enter this career,” former chief stew, Talullah Rodger said. “From the long, hard working hours and intensive living arrangements, to the great wages and fun lifestyle (off charter).”

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