For years there has been talk about a “yachting reality show” in the works in the industry rumor mill which has subsequently been followed by much controversy and mostly disdain for the idea. Well, no longer a rumor, the new series “Below Deck” will be airing on Bravo come July 1st.
Now, I haven’t seen any of it (obviously since it hasn’t aired yet) and the two sneak previews Bravo has added to their site aren’t accessible from the marina I’m sitting in in Canada, so any criticisms I’m about to make are mostly speculation. However, from my experience (albeit limited) over the past year and half working on a yacht (and two and half years since I initially took the plunge, so to speak, and earned my first yachting certification) I can tell you one thing; If this show is going to have any following, then it probably isn’t an honest representation of typical daily life for yacht crew.
Here is the show’s summary on Bravotv.com:
“This series follows a groups of crewmembers living and working aboard “Honor”, a 164′ mega-yacht. The upstairs and downstairs worlds collide when this single crew, known as “yachties,” live, love, and work together on-board the luxurious, privately-owned yacht while tending to the ever-changing needs of their wealthy, demanding charter guests. While each crew member brings a different level of experience, they all share a love for this lifestyle that enables them to travel to some of the most beautiful and exotic locales in the world.”
First of all, from my understanding the crew have been hand picked for this show, so much like MTV’s “The Real World”, I assume they have intentionally placed big personalities together to spur drama and furthermore, the charter guests know they are being filmed, so these won’t be your normal guests looking for an escape from the world onboard their private oases. Yes, real drama with guests and owners exists, but this is presumably going to be dramatized as it is made for television.
Second of all, day to day life while owners or guests are onboard is nothing to write home about; days are long, work is plentiful, and free time is non-existent. I was asked to write a “day in the life” type of piece for an online publication once and was met with the request to change it to a typical day when I am OFF the boat because that’s how mundane our true daily routine is. One commenter on a Dockwalk.com forum put it perfectly; “Stews- beds, heads, laundry… beds, heads, laundry… beds, heads, laundry; Deckies- clean, polish, scrub… clean, polish, scrub… clean, polish, scrub”. Does that sound like an exhilarating and captivating reality show? Not really. Sounds more like watching paint dry. There’s a reason I haven’t posted that “day in the life” piece on this site; however, I’ll happily post a video of our second engineer cleaning the sewage, that might actually be entertaining.
Lastly, all the “exotic locales” that are visited while guests are onboard, will mostly be seen only from the porthole for most crew members. This is a vacation for the guests, not the crew. Granted, there will be a day or two here and there for relaxation, but if it is truly a charter season, those days in between guests will be full of cleaning and detailing the boat for the next guests. Not very much time for beers on the beach as seen in the featured image for the series.
Just as my friend living on the coast in New Jersey despises the representation of her hometown on “Jersey Shore”, so will many “yachties” inevitably abhor the portrayal of their profession. It will be interesting to see what effect this show will have on the yachting industry after it airs and what it will do for the future careers for the cast members. Just like those who decide it’s a good idea to go on MTV’s “Real World”, I can’t see it being a shining star for one’s resume.
I’ll try to keep up with it as best I can (which will be difficult because the boys don’t share the remote and even if they did, ironically our owners will be onboard for the first few weeks) and see what direction the show takes. Turns out, trashy reality television is my guilty pleasure (I never said I was perfect!).
Check out the previews for “Below Deck” at www.bravotv.com/below-deck
Also check out an excerpt from Julie Perry’s Around the World With a Silver Tray to get a better idea of a stewardess’ workload here.