As a former yachty myself, I've been saying for years that there needs to be a reality show on yachting. If you've watched the Bravo reality series Below Deck, for even just ten minutes, you'll see why the industry is freaking hilarious.
The combination of good looking people, tiny encapsulated spaces, tremendous wealth, and, of course, booze is the perfect equation for some awkward antics.
However, as is the case with most reality shows, this one is full of crap. If you were considering packing up your desk job to head out to sea, you might want to read on. We bring six embarrassing truths and unrealities about the real yachting industry.
Hooking Up Onboard
This one is kind of a given. Take a group of young, attractive young people and add alcohol, and you will inevitably find some drunken hook-ups going down. However, it's not uncommon to end up in bed with someone you would have never considered on land -- i.e. the uncomfortable relationship between Sam and CJ on the show. This strange phenomena is known as the "desert mirage." It's like you're stranded in the desert, thirsty and alone, and you start hallucinating water, because you're so thirsty. Sometimes you just take what you can get.
Anyone who has ever seen a group of yachties on a night out after an owners trip or charter knows this one is a given. Yes, it is definitely considered binge drinking, but it kind of makes sense. After working 16-hour-plus days for weeks in a row, cooped up in a tiny space, it's like releasing a party animal from its cage. Add that to the thousand dollar charter tip, and you know some bottles will be popping -- and that those extra thousand bucks will inexplicably disappear (seriously, it happens). That being said, on most boats it is not acceptable for the crew to drink on charter -- Sam, CJ, and Kat would be on the dock in a heartbeat.
Seeing the World Through a Porthole
There's an episode in which Sam is complaining about being stuck ironing the guests' clothes all day long. While it does seem ridiculous that individuals would pack a bag and expect someone else to unpack and iron its entire contents, that's part of the job. It is not uncommon for crew members to get stuck "seeing the world through a porthole," as we like to say. You might get the stamp in your passport and you can technically say you've been to St. Barts, but chances are you're not getting off the boat -- unless you're taking out the garbage.
Hanging Out in the Guest Areas
Throughout the first season, there are many instances in which the crew are filmed hanging out in the guest areas of the yacht, like Skyping in the main salon (living room), eating at the guest dining table outside, drinking in the jacuzzi, or chatting on the aft deck couches with guests onboard. None of this would happen in the real yachting industry. Yes, there are some captains who will allow use of the owner's space from time to time when no one is around, but it does not happen often.
Chain of Command
For reality T.V. to gain audiences, there has to be some drama, obviously. In reality, there is no way either Kat or Sam would keep their jobs. The chain of command in yachting is supposed to be respected, and no chief stewardess would take the backtalk, the eye rolling, and the overall attitudes of those two. You might be stuck working and living with someone you secretly fantasize about punching in the face, but you take orders, do your job, and get over it -- or get fired, either way.
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You wouldn't exactly classify this crew as a diverse group of people -- they're mostly unmistakably white -- and that's pretty close to the real yachting. But a couple crew members don't exactly fit the yachting industry's stiff-upper-lip standards. While there are always exceptions to the rule, yachties are primarily middle and upper class straight white people with conservative values. Kat is a bit too rough and unpolished to really make it in yachting, and openly gay David would have a tough time dealing with bigotry. Like the rest of the world, the yachting industry is changing, but it's not known for celebrating diversity.