For those of us who haven’t been crew on a superyacht, the stories and anecdotes from life on board can – at times – seem far-fetched. Tales of outrageous guest behaviour, celebrities, demanding charter guests and wild parties are all quite commonplace. For those outside of the yachting, insight into this inner circle can be achieved through watching Below Deck, a reality TV show created by American TV channel Bravo.
There has been much discussion in the past about if the show is a positive thing for our market. From personal experience, many people who find out I work within the yachting sphere often refer to the show, wondering how much of the footage is a realistic portrayal of crew life, and what situations are created purely for viewers' entertainment.
A steady fixture on the show is chef Adam Glick. In an exclusive conversation with SuperyachtNews, Glick – who has spent the last decade working as a yacht chef – explains how he didn’t actively pursue a career in the industry, rather stumbled into his first role on board. “I didn’t even know what a yacht was. I had never considered it or thought about it as a location for a career, and it absolutely fell in my lap,” he begins. “I was peeling potatoes at a hotel in San Diego and I received an email from a yacht owner, who said, ‘Hey would you like to interview to cook on my boat?’” The rest, as they say, is history.
When I questioned the authenticity of the anctics featured on the show, Glick (who finished filming of the third season of Below Deck at the end of last year) is quick to point out the inherent nature of the yachting market makes it the prime subject for entertainment television. “I think people in yachting understand that the show is really not that outlandish,” he offers. “This is a reality. Yachting is a reality, that lifestyle is a reality, the absurdist requests are a reality, the incredible waste is a reality.”
“I think people in yachting understand that the show is really not that outlandish,” he offers. “This is a reality. Yachting is a reality, that lifestyle is a reality, the absurdist requests are a reality, the incredible waste is a reality.”
Addressing yacht crew directly, Glick challenges them to deny the behaviour that is shown on Below Deck, arguing that much of what happens could easily occur on any busy charter vessel. “Let’s put an entire camera crew on your boat, and let’s see how you handle it,” he asserts. “I guarantee you, after time with an entire camera crew on your boat, with charter guests back to back, nine weeks in a row, I guarantee you that you will have equal – if not more – drama.”
Reticent about revealing too many details about the methods of the show’s producers and film crew, Glick assures me that the crew are encouraged to behave naturally. “What I can tell you is that the production absolutely stays out of it. They absolutely try their hardest to allow us to do our jobs and not interfere at all. Honestly, the show is real.” The production does depict the clear upstairs/downstairs divide, illustrating how the yachting lifestyle for crew is not as glamorous as people may think. Glick agrees, “It’s not pretty in the yachting industry. It’s a big, pretty boat. It’s really pretty for the guys sitting in the master cabin, or maybe the charter broker. But for the rest of us, it is not a pretty industry.”
Glick argues that the behind-the-scenes footage of life on a yacht is the core reason behind the show’s success. The clandestine, closed-door mentality of crew life is exposed in a way that hasn’t truly been seen on a large scale. “That is why the television show is so successful and why the average public is wildly intrigued by what we do,” he notes. “People don’t know what happens on those boats, and they never really will know what happens. It’s like Vegas. What happens on those boats, stays on those boats.”
"It’s like Vegas. What happens on those boats, stays on those boats.”
What is truly real, and something that many crew will relate to, is the highs and lows that crew life can bring. Although he recalls many great moments of his time in yachting (“I loved it, I loved the hell out of it for 10 years. It was amazing. I sailed across the Pacific Ocean, I have travelled 85,000 nautical miles”), Glick’s reasons for stepping back from industry will resonate with many. “It’s been incredible but I don’t have a girlfriend, I can’t have a dog, my parents are getting older and they would love to have a grandkid. These things aren’t going to happen as long as I continue to be a yacht chef.” Glick is now focusing his sights being a chef in an entirely different environment from yachting, going “basic to basics” by cooking outside over a campfire.
Although many from outside the yachting industry will find the television show Below Deck improbable, what cannot be denied is the unparalleled access that each episode affords to the world of Glick and his fellow crew. These glimpses into the surreal life on a yacht makes for entertaining viewing, and doesn’t hesitate to show the good, the bad and the ugly of crew life.
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Photo: Adam Glick in Alaska
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