Below Deck: The Biggest Drama From The Franchise

Bravo's "Below Deck" franchise blows it out of the water — literally — giving viewers an inside look into what it's like to work on super yachts. The hit series launched in 2013 and has generated several spinoff shows, all filled with boatloads of drama. The series was an instant success, and has even toppled the "Real Housewives" franchise in the ratings. The series follows yacht interior crews, deckhands, and captains who all attempt to provide top-dollar service to their charter guests. And some of those guests are particularly unruly and demanding, applying pressure on the crew and making over-the-top requests. Lap dances, caviar for breakfast, and picnics in beachside castles are all fair game if you've got deep enough wallets to foot the six-figure bill to charter a luxury yacht.

The difficult guests, lavish table settings, and scenic backdrops are often overshadowed by what's happening below deck. As with any reality television show, viewers can expect a heavy amount of blowups, breakups, and hookups playing out on the show each season. Factor in the grueling work hours on very little sleep, and you have the recipe for a floating disaster, or in the production team's eyes — a television goldmine. Put on your snorkel and fins, because we are diving into some major "Below Deck" drama.

Aleks Taldykin was supposed to be the original captain

It's pretty hard to imagine that Captain Lee Rosbach, who has been a mainstay on the franchise since its debut, almost never made it on the show. The original captain was supposed to be Season 1 crew member Aleks Taldykin. Executive Producer Mark Cronin revealed to Metro that even though Rosbach was the captain of Season 1's motor yacht "Cuor di Leone," the producers figured Taldykin would be a better fit. "I thought, 'Oh he's got a license, that's good, he can be the captain. We'll get the old guy off and we'll put the young guy on, and we're in business,'" Cronin said.

Things were more complicated than they seemed, however, as it often is in the world of yachting. Evidently, Taldykin didn't have the experience that is required of a charter yacht captain, so the network pivoted back to Rosbach. "Bravo wasn't really big on it, they were like, 'Oh God, we're a channel that's trying to be young and attractive,'" Cronin said. "I was like, 'Guys you don't get it, Lee is a silver fox. I think every woman in America is going to love him. He's the real deal!'" He was indeed, and Rosbach has been a fixture of the series ever since. 

This probably does not come as a surprise to fans of the show, but Rosbach was far from interested in becoming a TV star. As Taldykin told Vulture, "Lee was really pissed, which was really funny because now he loves it."

Kat Held got called out for drinking during a charter

"Below Deck" Season 1 had its fair share of conflict. Just ask Kat Held and Adrienne Gang. Tensions rose in the interior department throughout the show's maiden voyage, and things really bubbled over between the chief stew and second stew in Episode 5. Gang suspected Held got drunk while she was on the clock, which of course is a big no-no. The accusations came up after one of the guests made lewd comments about Held while Held was in the middle of dinner service. 

Captain Lee Rosbach would find out one way or the other, so Gang gave Held the chance to talk to him first. At the time, Held insisted her behavior was a result of her anti-anxiety medication, not alcohol. "I was so worried that I was going to lose my job that I just wanted to be upfront with the Captain, and telling him about my anxiety was the only option," Held explained to

However, when the "Below Deck" reunion rolled around, Held admitted she was drunk during the charter and apologized to her crew mates. She lied to Gang and Rosbach because she knew the truth would get her fired. "Obviously, medication is a great way to smooth something over. So I just crossed my fingers and went with it," she said.

Chef Ryan McKeown faced off with the chief stew

As "Below Deck" viewers know all too well, the chef and chief stew dynamic is a delicate dance, but they typically try to get off on the right foot. On Season 1 of the spinoff series "Below Deck Down Under," however, Aesha Scott and Ryan McKeown were basically sworn enemies from day one. And then the muesli incident happened

When McKeown couldn't find any muesli for the meal he was preparing, he turned his frustrations on Scott, and a galley battle began. After Scott questioned McKeown's yacht experience, McKeown fired back, "I don't know, how many vacuums have you pushed, how many f***ing frying pans did you flip? You stick to vacuums, I'll stick to cooking." This spat was one of many between Scott and McKeown, and McKeown's overall behavior did not sit well with Captain Jason Chambers. Eventually, McKeown was told to pack his knives and go.

The drama didn't end after the chef's firing, however. McKeown and Scott continued to butt heads on social media, with the chef mocking the chief stew on an episode of "Pop-Off! with James,""Right now [Aesha's] whole life is Bravo," he said. "And if she's OK with it, I'm happy for her. But I live a real life." Meanwhile, Scott had nothing nice to say about her former coworker when she went on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen."

Baby drama on Below Deck Sailing Yacht

A "Below Deck" baby was a franchise first thanks to cast members Dani Soares and Jean-Luc Cerza-Lanaux. The stewardess and deckhand met aboard "Parsifal III" in Season 2 of the spinoff series "Below Deck Sailing Yacht." The two hit it off after a game of truth or dare led to their first kiss, and they continued to hook up and grow feelings for each other throughout the season. 

Alas, they parted ways after filming wrapped. While their season aired, fans were shocked when Soares announced via Instagram that she was expecting her first child, writing, "It's just you and I little baby." The rumor mill went wild with questions about whether or not Cerza-Lanaux was the father. The stew addressed the speculation during the reunion episode, confirming the rumors were true but admitting she and Cerza-Lanaux were not in a good place. The deckhand offended Soares with a paternity test request, and the drama didn't end there. Cerza-Lanaux's mother took to Instagram to accuse Soares of using her son. 

As for where the yachties' relationship stands today, it's unclear. In January 2022, the deckhand wrote on Instagram, "I'm happy and proud to say Sweet and beautiful Lilly rose is my daughter. Dani and I have been working and communicating together to the best of our ability." It's hard to say what that communication looks like, as Cerza-Lanaux does not post about his daughter; Soares has shared a number of adorable snaps of Lilly. 

Rocky Dakota and Eddie Lucas had a messy boatmance

No season of "Below Deck" is complete without its fair share of romance, er, boatmance. On Season 3, stew Rocky Dakota and bosun Eddie Lucas carried on a secret affair. As for how they kept it under wraps in such close quarters? At the time, there weren't cameras in the laundry room, so they could get away with sneaking off to the relatively secluded part of the boat. After that season, production made sure to put cameras in the laundry rooms.

Lucas eventually called off their arrangement, and Dakota spilled about their affair to other crewmates. At the time, the bosun had a girlfriend, which made things even rockier — pun intended. Initially, he tried to deny the story, but he eventually gave up the ruse. His cheating was out for all the world to see. The rest of the crew was equal parts shocked and amused by the laundry room shenanigans, but Captain Lee Rosbach was just let down

Years later, Lucas told Vulture, "I screwed up season three. There's no two ways about it, like, I screwed up. And it was appalling, my actions. I was thinking with the wrong head." While Dakota never came back to the show, Lucas returned for Seasons 8 and 9 to lead his deck crew as bosun. 

Gary King and Ashley Marti's hookup sparked concern

Gary King was quite the ladies' man during his time onboard "Parsifal III" during Season 3 of "Below Deck Sailing Yacht." While his flirtatious ways may have got the best of him, fans were concerned by one particular interaction with stewardess Ashley Marti. The night in question involved a drunken sleepover in a guest cabin. After fans began to question whether or not the stewardess took advantage of the bosun, King addressed the incident on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen." The bosun acknowledged that he understood why some viewers thought her behavior crossed a serious line, but maintained that he did not feel violated. 

"I could see how they saw that, but in the first place, I did hook up with Ashley prior to that happening," King said. He also insisted he didn't feel the fans' negative reactions to Marti's behavior was warranted, adding, "I appreciate everyone standing up for me, but I've got a voice of my own and I could use it if I felt I was assaulted."

Marti meanwhile chose to skip out on that season's reunion. She said in an Instagram Live (via Showbiz Cheatsheet), "At the time the reunion was filmed, all of the stuff with the bedroom scene was coming out. And people were being very nasty. And I just felt like I didn't want to have to deal with it during the reunion."

Kate Chastain and Ben Robinson's friendship took a hit

Kate Chastain and Ben Robinson are without a doubt an iconic reality TV duo, but the chief stew and chef's relationship hasn't always been smooth sailing. The two department heads locked horns season after season, but things really came to a head on Season 4 of "Below Deck." Near the top of the season, Chastain and Robinson got into it over a misunderstanding about whether or not the guests' "early dinner" was the final meal of the day and it was all downhill from there. Robinson had assumed there wouldn't be another dinner following the "early dinner," and he was less than thrilled about the change of plans. "Three things you encounter in life: death, taxes, and Ben getting angry when asked to cook food," Chastain said in her confessional. 

A few episodes later, the two argued again over dinner times. "It would be nice if everyone knew when the guests were going to eat — including the guests — because I'm not psychic," Robinson said. Captain Lee Rosbach overheard the argument and told the department heads to keep it down. The guests were also privy to the tension, with one jokingly commenting, "Mommy and daddy need to stop fighting." By the end of the season, Ben and Kate acknowledged their friendship wasn't what it once was. Thankfully, they were eventually able to let their Season 4 conflict cool and got back to being pals.

Hannah Ferrier clashed with Lara Flumiani

A "Below Deck Mediterranean" stalwart, Hannah Ferrier is no stranger to reality TV conflict. In Season 5, the chief stew and stewardess Lara Flumiani struggled to get along, as the former took issue with the latter's work ethic right away. The thing that pushed their relationship to the edge? Ferrier found Flumiani cleaning the crew mess when she was supposed to help with lunch service. Flumiani pushed back, insisting that she was following the instructions tacked up on the wall. After Ferrier told her to head to the laundry room, Flumiani retorted, "You found the wrong one, dude." Things only escalated when Flumiani tried to nudge Ferrier out of the way. Without missing a beat, the visibly furious chief stew pointed both fingers in Flumiani's face and stated, "Lady, don't touch me."

The two attempted to work things out for the sake of the team but it went nowhere. When the chief stew pointed out her problem with Flumiani's attitude, the stewardess said she had no respect for Ferrier. It ended with Ferrier calling her stew "disgusting" and storming off.

As per Bravo TV, the drama proved to be too much for second stew, and she ended up quitting early. "I'm not feeling comfortable anymore," Flumiani told Captain Sandy Yawn at the time. "It's just not working for me." Yawn revealed on "Watch What Happens with Andy Cohen" that she was shocked by the stew's behavior. "Never in my career have I seen anyone behave that way," she said.

Hannah Ferrier got the boot for having Valium on the boat

It was the firing heard 'round the yacht world. On Season 5 of "Below Deck Mediterranean," Hannah Ferrier was booted from the yacht after Malia White found she had Valium and a vape pen on board. Fearing for her own career, the bosun went straight to the captain. As White told Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live," "It's my duty to, I don't want to lose my licensing." Crew members are not supposed to have Valium on the boat unless they obtain approval, and neither White nor Captain Sandy Yawn took the discovery lightly. While Ferrier did acknowledge she had Valium with her, she maintained on "Watch What Happens Live" that the vape pen was for CBD not THC. 

On an episode of the "Below Deck Med" after show, Yawn defended her decision to fire the veteran chief stew. "Hannah can't do valium and have a job on a boat," Yawn said. "That's not allowed. because the minute you take that pill, you are now my liability, you're no longer my asset."

Ashton Pienaar almost died

When Ashton Pienaar signed up for a career in the yachting industry, he probably wasn't thinking of the near-death experiences that might come along with it. On Season 6 of "Below Deck," Pienaar got caught in a line and it almost cost him his life. The deckhand was standing on the swim platform but on the wrong side of the line, and when it snagged his foot, it ended up dragging him off the platform and out in the water. Thankfully, one of the cameramen jumped in, untied the line, and saved his life.

Pienaar went on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" to talk about the accident. "We were within 30 seconds of him dying, I don't know how I deal with that," a choked up Captain Lee Rosbach said. Unsurprisingly, Pienaar was stunned and immediately went to thank the member of the production team who untangled him from the line. "I just went up to him and grabbed him and hugged him and said 'I don't know what to say to you but I'm so grateful,'" he said.

Lexi Wilson's feud with Mat Shea went too far

When Lexi Wilson came onto Season 6 of "Below Deck Mediterranean," she sure seemed to have a hard time connecting with most of her castmates. She had a lot of cringeworthy moments throughout the season, including shouting "You're being a f***ing deckhand right now" at a member of the deck crew while they were all hanging out in the hot tub — and yes, she meant it as an insult. The nail in the coffin, however, was a particularly nasty altercation with Mat Shea. In the argument, she used the r-word, said he should've been aborted, and suggested the cameras were the only thing keeping her from getting physical. 

It wasn't exactly a shock when Captain Sandy Yawn finally fired Wilson. "Of course, I wanted to let her go. I never would have hired her. I don't hire the crew. Everybody knows that," Yawn told Us Weekly. "I feel for her, I would never tolerate that. I don't see it until you see it. Unless the crew really lays it out for me, the words 'it's bad', is that [really] a description?" 

Understandably, Wilson wasn't thrilled with her "Below Deck Med" debut. "I did say some horrible things. And you can't say those things," she said on an episode of "Another Below Deck Podcast" (via Showbiz CheatSheet). She also said viewers didn't get the whole story and made it clear that she's still not a fan of Shea.

Ashton Pienarr's scary behavior during a night out

"Below Deck" sees its fair share of drunken crew outbursts. Take the grueling long work hours, small living spaces, and overall stress of the job and you have the perfect recipe for drama. No one knows it better than seasoned yachtie Ashton Pienaar, who's had his fair share of alcohol-fueled disasters on the show. In one particularly bad moment, he went in for an unreciprocated kiss with chief stew Kate Chastain. And that was only the beginning of his poor behavior that night. Later that evening, Pienaar lost it when Chastain mentioned his mother. "That was such a f***ing weak blow," Pienaar said. "If you think you're such a f***ing better person for calling my mother out... get the f**k over yourself."  The incident ended with the deckhand punching the car window in a fit of rage.

Chastain and Captain Lee Rosbach both agreed the behavior was out of line when they appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen." The veteran captain told Cohen that he refuses to work with the yachtie again. On a subsequent episode of "WWHL," Pienaar tried to defend the drunken kiss but did add he regretted his behavior overall. He also said he doesn't begrudge his former captain's decision. "All I can do is better myself and make the necessary changes in my own life. I've stopped drinking. I'm getting to the root cause of why this behavior came out the way that it did," he said. 

Elizabeth Frankini got the chop for staying in a guest cabin

Elizabeth Frankini made her way onboard Season 8 of "Below Deck" and into the arms of her coworker James Hough. However, their romance came to a screeching halt when they decided to spend the night in one of the guest cabins without the chief stew's permission. At that point, Francesca Rubi was already fed up with Frankini's work ethic; the third stew's case wasn't looking so strong. "Every charter, I've really had to work, and I'm continually putting in energy and checking up on you. We've had numerous chats about this, but sleeping in the guest cabin was sort of the final straw for me," Rubi said to Frankini when she delivered the news. The firing came as a shock to the stew, who assumed she was just meeting with Rubi for a casual work chat. 

Captain Lee Rosbach stood by the decision to part ways with Frankini. "It was time," he said on the "Below Deck" after show. "We had exhausted every possibility, given her every opportunity to step up to the plate."

On the "Below Deck" after show, Frankini acknowledged her error.  "Looking back, knowing Francesca, yeah, I should've asked permission, just because I know the way she is," she said. "But I think at the time, I had lost all respect for her by the way that I felt like I was being treated."

Heather Chase used the n-word

Heather Chase made waves during her time as chief stew on Season 8 of "Below Deck" — in a bad way. During a drunken night out with the rest of the cast, Chase used the n-word in the middle of a conversation with Rayna Lindsey. The chief stew offered an apology only after Lindsey called her out for using the slur, and Lindsey struggled to forgive her coworker. What's more, the deckhand didn't get the support she needed from her bosun Eddie Lucas or Captain Lee Rosbach.

"Something happens so bad that it becomes impossible to trust anyone. With time and the reunion, I hope we can unpack everything," Lindsey said in an Instagram Story (via Us Weekly). "I battled a lot with trying not to get upset and give the 'angry black woman' narrative. I also thought she had said it again in the crew mess so I was like alright time to address this." 

Lindsey and Chase were able to find some resolution following the reunion episode, and the chief stew issued another apology for her actions. "I am sorry for the hurt my ignorance caused Rayna in tonight's episode. While I apologized to Rayna throughout the season, I cannot express enough how remorseful I am," Heather wrote in an Instagram post (via Us Weekly). "Over the past nine months since this episode was filmed, I have learned how my words and actions can affect others and I vow to do better in the future."

Camille Lamb and Alissa Humber's feud wouldn't fade

Camille Lamb and Alissa Humber were like oil and water from the moment they climbed aboard for Season 10 of "Below Deck." Humber didn't appreciate Lamb's work ethic (or lack thereof), Lamb didn't appreciate Humber's delegation style, and the two regularly called each other names. The feud ran so deep that they didn't think twice about getting into a screaming match in the middle of the charter within earshot of the guests. 

Despite several mediation attempts by Captain Sandy Yawn (who stepped in while Captain Lee Rosbach was out for health reasons) and chief stew Fraser Olender, Lamb and Humbert just could not get along. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, Lamb had drama with several other members of the crew. Ultimately, her superiors suspected she wasn't a great fit for the gig. And so, the captain and chief stew decided to let Lamb go.

"I sort of feel awful, because there was so much bad behavior," Olender told Entertainment Tonight, "but from what I saw it was pretty bad. But I had no idea it was this terrible. It's not like I didn't listen to Alissa when she would tell me that it was an issue. It was more so that I didn't have time for that petty B.S., I just wanted to get the job done," he added. In her Instagram Stories (via Reality Blurb), Lamb, who was fired after she got drunk on a workday, blamed her unflattering storyline on editing and production.