EXCLUSIVE: Bravo is expanding its hit Below Deck franchise with tonight’s series premiere of Below Deck Sailing Yacht. It is the third entry in the franchise, following the uber-successful Below Deck Mediterranean.
Ahead of the premiere, I had the opportunity to speak with fellow Canadian Captain Glenn Shephard about the first season of the show, what fans of the franchise can expect, and how he first got involved in the industry.
Hi Glenn! Congratulations on the upcoming premiere of Below Deck Sailing Yacht. How are you feeling?
Hi Brett! It’s great, thank you. I’m very excited.
Tell me about how you first got involved in the yachting industry.
I was born in Montreal and I always loved to travel. I was in love with the idea of sailing around the Mediterranean, sailing around the Carribean, but I wasn’t sure of super yachting because I was worried if I started it as a career, it might hurt the hobby, the lifestyle that I enjoyed.
I decided to give it a try and fell in love with it immediately. I never looked back and I’ve been doing it for two decades since. In between charters, I would take the time to go out on my own little boat. I’ve grown with the industry and it’s changed a lot in the last 20 years. It’s gotten a lot bigger.
What impact has the show had on the yachting industry?
When I was starting to look into it, and this was in the late 90s, it was really hard to find out information, like how it works, how do you get started, how much can you earn, etc. I was lucky I had a relative who was doing it, my cousin, and he showed me the ropes. I went to Ft. Lauderdale and got started.
Nowadays, with Below Deck, and now Below Deck Sailing Yacht, the industry is growing. People are seeing it, looking at it, and seeing it as an option because, for the right kind of person, you can’t beat it. I love it. But I’m a traveler anyways.
How did the opportunity to join Below Deck Sailing Yacht first come about?
The production company reached out to me because I have an informal network of other captains that I help, to find crew and stuff like that, and I think when they decided to expand the franchise, someone gave them my name.
They approached me [to help them find a boat] but I also said, ‘I’m also a Captain and I have a boat the size that you might be looking for.’ And it happened from there.
Can you tell us about the boat we’re going to see on the show, the Parsifal III?
The boat that I’ve been Captain on is the boat that will be featured on the show. I’m the full-time Captain, and I’ve been working for the same family for over 10 years. They are going to get the real thing. The real way that these boat works.
Chef Adam is returning to the franchise this season. What was it like having him on the cast this season?
I had seen some of the shows, and I had seen Adam on the show. I was familiar with him but I had never met him in person. I met him when we started filming the season.
A big part of the show is the food. What did you think of the food, and Adam’s performance?
He has very, very high standards. Very high-level professionalism. I have worked with a lot of great chefs and he is definitely in that top category. I am very impressed. Great all-around guy, very smart guy, really knows what he is doing in the galley.
A lot of the show is about the lifestyle and travel “eye candy.” What can we expect to see this season?
It’s very activity driven. Moving the boat to a beach to maybe do a beach BBQ, do a party on a beach, it’s not just getting there, it’s sailing to get there. The activity of sailing is a big part of it. It’s part of the fun.
We’re pretty much offering the same experience you would have on a motor yacht, just with the added aspect of the sailing experience.
Any memorable charter guests?
We had one that was crazy. Some great guys but real hardcore partiers. It was a bit challenging. They reminded me of my buddies growing up.
Generally, we got a mixed crowed but there’s going to be some very interesting stuff and very interesting guests this season. You might have gotten a sense of it in the teaser.
Have you had a chance to connect with Captain Lee or Captain Sandy? If so, did you ask them for any advice?
I did reach out to them before production started, just to pick their brains and see what they had to say about the experience. The main point was to remember to be yourself. ‘There are TV cameras, it’s being filmed, but they want to film what’s really happening on the boat. So just be yourself. You’re not acting, you’re just doing your job.’
I was a little bit nervous when the cameras first started rolling, the first day or two, but after that, I just got on with my job. The audience is really going to see how we do it on these boats, take care of the guests, and go sailing. That was great advice.
The Captains are such a big part of the show for fans.
We’re like the adults in the room. The voice of reason. That’s definitely part of the job as Captain, to keep a good vibe, keep people motivated, keep them on point. You’ll see that on the show.
What type of Captain, or manager, are you?
I consider myself a macro manager. I have very good people, I always try to get the best people, and I like to stand back a little bit and let them do their thing. I like to give them ownership of their department, and they become captains of their department. They take responsibility instead of waiting to be told what to do next.
If things get out of line, I have to lay down the line and let people know. But if I get to that point, I think that I’ve failed a little bit.
Final question: Are you a fan of any other Bravo shows?
I’ve seen Below Deck, obviously, and some of the Real Housewives. Anything that is related to the sea, I find very fascinating.
Below Deck Sailing Yacht, with Captain Glenn Shephard, premieres tonight at 9/8c on Bravo. For more information on the show, visit Bravotv.com.