GRACE FOWLER: “Under the bridge”

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel the world on a yacht and get paid to do it? I certainly think so.

This is the premise of my new obsession, a show called “Below Deck”. We are now watching our eighth season and I can’t get enough of it. I first heard about this show from a coworker and as soon as I watched a few episodes I understood his addiction. If you like a silly little reality TV with a lot of drama, this show is for you.

Since I am now a yachting expert (via this show), here is a rundown of the ins and outs. Each season of “Under Deck” includes a charter season and when you charter a yacht for a night or two, that means you are “chartering” the boat. A charter “season” on a given yacht lasts approximately six weeks and consists of approximately nine charters. Just in case the word ‘yacht’ didn’t get you there, these boats are huge. There is usually a master bedroom, three guest bedrooms, captains quarters, plus enough bunk bedrooms to accommodate all staff.

The yachts on “Under the Bridge” have eight to 12 people on staff. There is an inside team made up of a chief steward and two people who work under that person to manage guest cabins, catering and customer service. There is a cook, a captain and often an engineer or two to make sure all the machines are working properly and to fix anything that is wrong. The outside team is managed by the boatswain (who is like the outside version of a chief flight attendant) and a team of two to three deckhands. Their job is to help the captain moor the boat, manage all water activities, and keep the exterior of the boat clean. This job is not for the weak. They work long hours, they have to deal with absurd guest requests, and there is a lot of manual labor involved. When you put together a group of 10 people who may or may not know each other, add a stressful and high pressure environment, there’s bound to be drama.

Other than the drama, my favorite thing about the show is thinking how amazing it would be to travel the world like the folks on “Below Deck” do. The first series of the show we just finished had charters to places like Thailand, Tahiti, and the Bahamas. I have just started the second series, and these charters are taking place in the Mediterranean. What an amazing place to get to work.

I love to travel, but I also like having a home port. A lot of people who work on yachts are more nomadic than I am. They accept that they don’t have a permanent home and they like to jump from place to place. Who knows, maybe one day I could be a charter guest? It is good to dream.

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