Last year, American television channel Bravo released a new reality TV programme, ‘Below Deck’, that followed the lives of superyacht crew on a busy charter yacht. Since its release, the programme has generated a range of reactions, including criticism about the unrealistic representation it gives of the charter industry, which holds the potential to damage the professional image of yachting. With the first season of the show over, The Crew Report speaks to Captain Lee Rosbach of motoryacht Honor, the yacht on which the show was filmed, about his view of the show and its subsequent effects.

Captain Lee Rosbach. Credit: Bravo

“I feel that the portrayal of our industry was accurate in that every charter captain has to deal with the issues of problem crew, problem guests and weather issues,” explains Captain Rosbach, discussing the reality that the show reflected. “The only difference is that my problems were condensed into one short season due to the constraints of TV. Every captain has had the same problems, and the same issues, just spread out over a longer period of time.”
Concerns have also been raised that the show will encourage the wrong type of crew to enter into the industry, but Captain Rosbach does not believe that this is the case. “As far as the impact of the series, positive or negative, in my opinion it was a net positive,” he upholds. “I think that the exposure of our segment of the industry to other segments of the service industry is a good thing. It gave exposure to a whole new group of applicants that probably didn't even know these positions existed and I think the competition would be a healthy thing to have happen. You will get bad applicants in any industry but the more applicants you have the better, ours is no different. We didn't have actors on board. While they may not have been the most experienced, they did have some [experience], as is the case with a lot of newbies that get hired every year throughout our industry. I think that all newbies come into our industry without a real concept of what our industry is all about.”

"It gave exposure to a whole new group of applicants that probably didn't even know these positions existed and I think the competition would be a healthy thing to have happen."

“I would think that the exposure as a direct result of the show, would have a positive affect overall,” Captain Rosbach continues. “Will there be some negative responses? Absolutely, as there is with anything. But I would assume that there are a great deal of people in a lot of areas of our country that did not know that the charter industry even exists, or that yachting is indeed a huge industry. So I think that it is a good thing for our industry as a whole. The reality is we, the crew, live, work, deal with real problems, laugh, and do all the things that real people do, but in a very confined space that is constantly moving. The viewing public identify with and can relate to that - I think that is good for our industry.”
In light of his experience during the show of captaining a charter yacht with relatively inexperienced crew, we asked Captain Rosbach if there was anything that he felt that could improve in the industry. “A large influx of new people, with good work ethics, people that are viewing the industry as a career, not something to ‘kill a summer with’, will be a great thing for everyone all the way down the line,” he responded. “Owners, captains, and all crew; it is the people that make the industry, not the other way around.”

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