Gabriela Barragan from Below Deck Sailing Yacht laughed about how she started her career on large superyachts and worked backward. She launched her yachting career working on larger yachts like Richard Branson’s luxury catamaran Bella Vita and now works on a smaller sailing yacht, owned and run by Below Deck‘s Wes O’Dell.
“My career has definitely been backward,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Most people start on small boats doing day charters and work their way up. I started on large motor yachts and then went the other way. Before Parsifal III, I worked on one sailing yacht called Bella Vita. It was a sailing catamaran and at one point it was the largest sailing catamaran in the world owned by Richard Branson. That was the only experience I had, but I wasn’t trimming sails.”
What is Richard Branson’s Bella Vita like?
Bella Vita has four luxury guest cabins that can accommodate up to 10 guests, according to Charter World. The yacht runs with a crew of six and offers the same luxuries and amenities associated with most high-end luxury yachts.
Branson no longer owns the 105 foot Bella Vita, which is only one of few luxury catamarans, Business Insider reports. Branson sold the yacht for $3 million in 2018 and shared why he purchased a catamaran instead of a superyacht.
“I’m not really into motor yachts,” he said. “We had great fun breaking the record on VAC II but I’d get bored cruising on a motor yacht. I sold it the day after we broke the record and have never had another one since.” Adding, “I love to have friends on board to explore the nearby islands, and of course, the submarine adds another whole dimension to cruising the Caribbean. It’s like flying a mini fighter jet underwater.”
Gabriela prefers the thrill of a sailing yacht
Barragan caught the sailing bug when she worked on Bella Vita. She now prefers the excitement of sailing over working on a motor yacht. But Barragan said she’s still green when it comes to the actual inner workings of what it takes to work on deck of a sailing yacht.
“I didn’t know anything about sailing, so this was my second sailing boat charter,” she said about Parsifal III. “And it was way more exciting than a motor yacht. It keeps you on your toes. And it was fun.” In the Below Deck Sailing Yacht trailer, Barragan joked about being a stew on a sailing yacht, sharing that it’s not the sailing part that’s hard, “It’s the f****** elements,” she exclaimed.
Gaby works for Wes from ‘Below Deck’
Barragan went from Branson’s 105-foot sailing catamaran to Parsifal III, which is 177 feet – to O’Dell’s Nightwind II, which is 53 feet. She worked in the interior on Below Deck Sailing Yacht and once again broadened her skillset when she became O’Dell’s first mate.
“I now work on a sailboat and I’m the first mate on Wes’s boat,” she said. “He’s teaching me everything about sailing. And it’s hard. I have been so tired. I feel like such a wuss [laughs]. It’s the physical labor of being out in the sun and the salt air all day, every day, learning a bunch.”
“It’s like learning a new language and using parts of my brain that I haven’t used in years are working overtime. I think it takes about a month to get acclimated. So it’s like, OK, two more weeks to go and I’ll be a pro [laughs].”
Barragan and O’Dell have also become friends. They both have a quick wit and easy-going nature. “Wes and I get along so well, he is really funny. We make each other laugh all day,” she said.
Below Deck Sailing Yacht is on Monday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.