Updated: Apr 5
SO WHATS THE LOW DOWN OF IT ALL......
I thought it was time we discussed the conversation that many have or maybe many should have about the reality behind 'Below Deck'.
First of all lets define reality:
'the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them'
Working as a trainer predominantly for those that are looking to start in the yachting world, there is a fairly large chunk of candidates that have at some point binge watched the series Below Beck.
I now run a free online short course that gives people in insight to ‘an introduction to yachting’, it covers the basics, such as life board living in the crew area, what to expect, working hours, the ups and downs, a test to see if you have the right personality traits for the job and much more.
After people participate I follow up to offer extra help.
It also gives me a great understanding on how quick students complete it, and what extra questions they ask as to how serious they are about joining, which leads me onto my point about whether or not I can tell if the are basing there thoughts of yachting having seen ‘Below Deck’
Questions such as “ Do we get to go home between trips?” “Can we use the owners quarters when they aren’t there?” are just a few that come up.
Since being a trainer I have should I say ‘indulged’ in watching an episode or two so I could understand what is being portrayed to its audience. I know that a large percentage of that audience could possibly be my students.
My first time I spent moaning out loud:
“What, no tray?”
“Where is all the uniform”
“Why are the crew using the owners areas”
“That galley is a Total mess”
But after a while I watched a few more and the moaning out loud became silent, it was just in my head, it didn’t go away but I put up with it. I tried to look at the other way non-yachties would and then I could see the appeal.
Do I think its a great depiction of the real world? No, but it does give a little insight, I could see why some shots were in the guest area due to lack of space in the crew area, and to perhaps portray a more glamorous side to the life?
You do see the crew cabins and that’s great for people to see an area they are potentially going to be living in.
Whilst I was appalled at the idea of this reality show in the industry that some of us thought was so secret I am partly grateful for showcasing this on TV, because of course, people watch an episode or 20 and then start a google search into how to become a yachtie and land on my site… and I imagine the same then happens for crew agencies.
However does this bring the wrong type of person? Well, the interesting thing is…. I speak to a lot of people day in day out and those that find out what I do invariably ask me the same question- “do you watch below deck, is that like what you used to do? I am addicted to watching it”
I find myself pausing and taking a breath before I answer…. (My head is screaming, of course its not realistic, every boat I ever worked on was way more professional than these), however I have a tonne of stories that can relate over 10 yrs but not all in one go like on this reality show.
Of course they need juice, that’s what keeps the viewers coming back for more.
So what have I got against it? Well, I know that some boats are run like this but the majority aren’t and those of us who care and take pride want the industry to be showcased in a professional way.
I also want to have people on my course that want to learn what I teach them and use it immediately. The fundamentals of being a good crew member:learning to respect and get along with crew. Being the best and most professional at your job, remaining safe and looking after the safety of guests and other crew members.
Remembering that you are there to do a job and you get paid pretty well for that.
What is true: the crew relationships that are formed, the arguments between crew members, some crew going off the rails and perhaps partying too hard.
What do I think you should see more?- The really long hours where people are tired, the reality of when you can’t get to see family members or go home… what and where is home? Things like the lack of fast speed internet, not being able to go ashore for ages when busy with guests and at anchor, no time for exercise. So when do you go for those much needed dentists visits etc…the reality that a long term relationship with someone isn’t in the industry isn’t easy. The jobs that you have to do with guests aren’t onboard. The small crew quarters that literally allow you no personal space.
I can see why people want to watch a reality show on this intriguing industry that is still unheard of too many, I truly do. Would I prefer that real documentaries are shown more frequently to give a real insight and understanding?…well of
course I do but us true professionals are under strict NDA’s and look what happened to Royal Butler Paul Burrel when he let all the secrets out for the people that trusted him with explicit details of their lives?
We are professionals, I do of course have many stories, some I share because I am not in breech and others that I will take to the grave with me because I respect the Job I had and the people that I had the pleasure to be trusted to work for.
My lips are sealed and the jury is out. I shan’t judge you if you have watched it, just make sure you want to join for the right reasons. Ask lots of questions.