The Untold Truth Of Below Deck Down Under

The "Below Deck" franchise has gone to the Caribbean. It has taken the Mediterranean. It has sailed around Greece and Croatia. And thanks to the fourth iteration of the franchise, it has headed to Australia. Like its predecessors, "Below Deck Down Under" follows a group of yachties as they work and party, and there is no shortage of boozy, boisterous boat-filled drama to keep you afloat. The shows in the "Below Deck" universe are consistently ranked as some of Bravo's most-watched programs, and the franchise shows no signs of slowing down; "Below Deck Down Under" premiered on Peacock in 2022 and quickly proved there is no such thing as too much "Below Deck." 

"Down Under" follows the tried and true "Below Deck" formula: An attractive crew of seafaring individuals live and work on a souped-up charter yacht for a set number of weeks and cameras catch all of the goings-on. From designing elaborate table settings to planning extravagant meals to navigating dockings, there's plenty of workplace mayhem to be had, as well as a seemingly never-ending stream of interpersonal drama. Strap in, because we are about to get into the untold truth of "Below Deck Down Under."

Aesha Scott wasn't sure she'd come back

Franchise veteran Aesha Scott made her triumphant return to Bravo on "Below Deck Down Under" Season 1, and she continues to bring the same humor that fans fell in love with during "Below Deck Mediterranean" Season 4 and Season 5. On "Down Under," she traded her second stew stripes for the silver stripes of a chief stew. While it's a stressful gig, the New Zealand native was eager to rise to the occasion. As she told Bravo Insider, "It's just so, so exciting because I think, you know, I'd been second [stew] for a long time... I'm one of those people in life where it's like, if you're too comfortable, then you need to change because you should always be growing and always challenging yourself."

Scott's job title isn't the only major change. As she shared near the top of the first season of "Down Under," the "Below Deck" star is in a committed relationship with boyfriend Scott Dobson; her days of boat-mances, a la her fling with former "Below Deck: Med" castmate Jack Stirrup, may very well be a thing of the past. 

Though Scott was an immediate fan favorite, her return to the "Below Deck" universe wasn't always a given. As she told ET in 2020, "I think if [Bravo] asked me [to be chief stew], it's definitely something that I would think about ... do feel very checked out of yachting." Thankfully, she's checked back in.

A Below Deck alum told Jason Chambers to join

Standing at the helm of Season 1 of "Below Deck Down Under" is Captain Jason Chambers. The youngest captain to ever be a part of the "Below Deck" franchise, Chambers has logged over 20 years of experience on the water. And we have series alum and fellow Aussie Hannah Ferrier to thank for the telegenic captain's involvement in the series. "I reached out to her about the conversations I had with the production team," Chambers shared with Decider, "and she told me: 'You're a great fit for it. Just be yourself and just go and have fun.'" 

While "Below Deck" viewers have watched some chief stews and captains clash in the past, it sure seems like Aesha Scott and Chambers get along swimmingly — partly because he's such a team player. As she shared on Ferrier's "Dear Reality, You're Effed" podcast, Chambers helped out the interior team regularly. "Every extra job that I just could not deal with, he was doing it behind the scenes. And I didn't even ask him," she shared. When Ferrier said he'd be a great fit, she wasn't kidding. 

While the captain is all business when it comes to yachting, he wouldn't say no to any and all future boat-mances. When asked about his romantic life on "Watch What Happens Live," Chambers told Andy Cohen he was open to being in a relationship with a stew. We can only imagine what the stack of crew applications looks like.

The crew makes bank

If you're up working hard in some of the most luxurious locations in the world, yachting just might be your calling. So, how much might one rake in as a crew member on a 181-foot yacht like the one on "Below Deck Down Under"?  According to Crewfinders, deckhands and stews on a superyacht of this size can bring in over $60,000 a year, the chief stew and the chef can make as much as $84,000 a year, the bosun at least $66,000, and the captain can earn six figures.

On top of that, there's the whole TV show factor. Former cast member Eddie Lucas made waves when he mentioned money matters to the New York Post in 2022. "While we do get paid better than a normal yachtie, of course, we are still not getting paid what people like the Housewives are making, which is a little frustrating, because they're not really working — they're just going out to dinner and fighting," he stated. Zoinks.

On an episode of "Pop-Off! with James," former deckhand Rhylee Gerber theorized that the constant rotation of crew members each season may have something to do with why the yacht crew is paid less than established "Real Housewives" stars. "If [Lucas] said that, number one, we are paid much, much, much, much, much less than the Housewives, which is crazy because it's Bravo," she said. "It's still a big network. There's still a big production company behind it. They've got the money."

Yes, guests pay to be on the boat

Chartering a fully staffed yacht is expensive no matter how you slice it, and as producer Mark Cronin shared in a Reddit AMA, a primary guest on a "Below Deck" series pays about half of what it'd cost if cameras were not around. So how much can a three-day vacation on a lavish superyacht in some of the most captivating places in the world set a "Below Deck" guest back? While we don't know the exact price of a "Below Deck Down Under" charter, we can develop a guesstimate based on a report by blind item gossip Instagram account DeuxMoi (via Bravo After Thoughts).

In 2020, DeuxMoi shared a list of details that were reportedly given to "Below Deck Mediterranean" Season 6 guests. "We have two charters that will be 2 nights, 3 days for the discounted price of $40,000. There are 5 charters that are 3 night, 4 days at $45,000," reads the doc. It goes on to confirm travel, food, and beverages are all included in that ticket price.

As for the tip? The guests are expected to cough up at least 15% of the total original cost (i.e., the price before the "Below Deck" discount). However, as Cronin told Bravo's The Daily Dish, the gratuity amount is left up to the guests' discretion. As "Below Deck" viewers know, guest tips do not always live up to expectation. 

Captain Jason Chambers crashed a superyacht

Captain Jason Chambers is known for stealing hearts, yes, but he also made a bit of a name for himself after he crashed a superyacht. The newest "Below Deckcaptain had a titanic fail in Cairns when the 45.6-meter superyacht he was captaining narrowly missed smashing right into a restaurant. In 2019, he was at the wheel when a mechanical failure caused the luxury watercraft to careen into the marina. 

Customers at the neighboring floating restaurant Prawn Star were certainly in for dinner and a show. "It was scary, people were screaming and very frightened. But no one was hurt and that's the most important thing," Prawn Star's manager told ABC at the time. The "Below Deck Down Under" star explained to 7News Cairns that a jammed gear caused the collision, and he shut down all engines and did what he could under pressure to avoid injuring any people. Thankfully, the multimillion-dollar yacht only sustained superficial damages after the incident, and more importantly, nobody was injured during the commotion.

The chef was ready to be a villain

A "Below Deck" season isn't complete without the chef and chief stew blowing up on each other, and "Below Deck Down Under" is no different. But based on an interview McKeown gave Showbiz Cheat Sheet, it sounds like the chef was more than happy to play the role of villain. "So, you know, [production is] going to keep people entertained," he said, "And yeah, I anticipated the hate. I really enjoy it because it's only going to make me go further. So, bring it."

McKeown and Scott butted heads about a number of things, such as plating timing and his relatively simple approach to menu planning. In one especially heated interaction that bubbled up in Episode 6, she questioned his experience as a yacht chef, and he fired back, "I don't know, how many vacuums have you pushed, how many f**king frying pans did you flip? You stick to vacuums, I'll stick to cooking."

Scott didn't mince words when Decider asked about McKeown. "I've dealt with other chefs before who could be really mean, but they were amazing at cooking so I gave them a bit of a pass," she said. "Ryan was not a good chef." However, McKeown believes Scott's to blame for why they started off on the wrong foot. "What was one of the first things she said to me? 'What kind of person — are you cheffy?' So, I'm pretty sure arrogance started with her," he said in Bravo's The Daily Dish.

Bosun Jamie Sayed has worn many hats

Before landing gigs on superyachts and launching his reality television debut, Jamie Sayed built up quite an intense resume. The "Below Deck Down Under" bosun told Decider that he worked as a police officer, lifeguard, and soldier before he got into the yachting industry. 

For now, you can keep up with Sayed thanks to his very own podcast called "Wake Up With Jamie." "I was at a bar sitting by myself in Panama, and I noticed some people nearby who were telling stories. I realized that every single person has a story," he recalled to Decider. "So, I thought why don't I create a podcast and start interviewing random people and ask them to share their stories." And as for what else the future may hold for the bosun? It sounds like the sky's the limit — literally. As he told Bravo's The Daily Dish, he hopes not only to become a licensed helicopter pilot, but get his own chopper.

There isn't much privacy on Below Deck

So what do "Below Deck Down Under" cast members have to sacrifice to call some of the most stunning locations in the world their "office"? Well, according to "Below Deck Mediterranean" alum Jessica Moore, most of your personal space goes right out the porthole, for starters. In an interview with In Touch, Moore dished on just how limited alone time is onboard the megayachts. "There's zero privacy unless you're going to the restroom." But even then the bathroom isn't altogether safe. As  The New York Times noted in a 2020 feature about the series, the camera crew may still keep tabs on cast members when they are in the toilet — especially if they aren't alone. 

Understandably, this level of surveillance can take some getting used to, but as "Below Deck Down Under" star Captain Jason Chambers told Distractify, it's easy to forget you're on a TV show when you're busy, you know, keeping a giant boat running. 

In Season 3 of "Below Deck," things changed in a big way when longtime boson Eddie Lucas and stew Rocky Dakota turned the ship's laundry room into, to borrow a phrase from "Jersey Shore," the smush room. "Below Deck" star Captain Lee Rosbach told Cosmopolitan, "Well, we never used to have cameras in [the laundry room], because, let's face it, there's not a lot of action in there... until that season. Now we have cameras in the laundry room. The show morphs each year." Big "Below Deck" Brother is always watching. 

There's a lot of work behind the scenes

There's a lot more to "Below Deck" than meets the eye; not unlike the yacht itself, the series is a well-oiled machine. As noted in Boat International, the show's production team works around the clock. Longtime series EP Tania Hamidi explained to the outlet, "The camera crew are running around and hiding from each other while getting all the action." The behind-the-scenes team may be bigger than you'd expect. According to The New York Times, around 50 hotel rooms are booked during filming to accommodate the crew. 

The production crew has a lot of plates to spin, including keeping tabs on little details. As bosun Eddie Lucas recalled to Cosmopolitan, he got a slap on the wrist after he wound up with a cut on his head from horsing around with Ben Robinson between takes. "I'm pretty sure I had a bald spot and it was bleeding, but we were cracking up about it," said Lucas. "We got yelled at by production." As the magazine pointed out, the sudden change to Lucas' appearance could potentially throw off continuity when it came time to edit the episodes together.  

Though viewers don't really get to see the yacht crew and the production crew interact much, it sure sounds like there's a strong bond there. As "Below Deck Down Under" star Aesha Scott told E! News, the production team was one of the main reasons why she was excited to return to "Below Deck."