The Coming Storm

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E1: There’s No Place Like Home

OG Below Deck is back! Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain – and her razor sharp wit – will certainly be missed after 6 seasons, but season 8 brings back bosun Eddie Lucas, last seen in season 3 (aka “The Rocky Season”). Season 8 also marks a return to the Caribbean, and as Captain Lee Rosbach opines, “it’s like going home again.”

Motor yacht My Seanna has a new Chief Stew named Francesca, a new chef named Rachel, deckhands James, Shane and Avery, and stewardesses Elizabeth and Izzy. From the trailer, COVID is not the only thing that goes wrong this charter season…

We start with Eddie arriving on the boat, and he says he hasn’t been in yachting for the 5 seasons he’s been away; he looks for Captain Lee, and can’t find him… Eddie call the cap, and we learn that Lee fell in the shower and “busted some ribs” – so he’s not on board for the first day! We’re already off to an unusual start!

As Eddie familiarizes himself with the vessel, Francesca arrives and starts poking around the boat as well. They meet, and in an interview we get some insight into how she thinks: everything needs to be perfect. This should be fun…

The rest of the crew arrives, and James is taken with Francesca. Later, he says in an interview he’s there to have fun and do as little work as possible (but he’ll still “work hard.” Sure…). Avery is the seasoned yachtie, and Shane is the greenest of the green deckhands. So green, in fact, that when Francesca sits and meets with her stews, Shane sits with them, unaware they’re in the middle of a team meeting. Eddie doesn’t seem to know what to do with Shane, so basically just tells him to follow the others and absorb what they’re doing.

The stews start cleaning the interior, and Francesca gets them organized; they seem to be on top of things, cleaning-wise, and she’s happy with their work. Elizabeth is a hippie-type who says she “feels vibes,” and she says Francesca has “pure intentions.”

Chef Rachel arrives and tells Francesca of her harrowing 72-hours of having her purse stolen; she seems frazzled as she gets on the boat, but quickly goes to work organizing her galley. She says she’s a perfectionist (like all chefs?), but says she has to hit the ground running; she’s been in the industry for 14 years, so she seems to know how to roll with the punches (unlike Kiko and Tom from Below Deck Med #TooSoon?).

Captain Lee returns to the boat, and says his ribs are killing him – but only when he moves and breathes! He says he’s going to suck it up, and get to work, as a crusty sea captain would do. He has a meeting with the crew, and apologizes for not being on the boat; he then lays down the law: don’t embarrass the boat or themselves. In an interview, he says he’s not going to have a repeat of last season (the less said about Ashton, Brian, Tanner, etc the better). He stresses the importance of radios, says the guests will arrive the next day, and the crew gets back to work.

Lee, Eddie, Rachel and Francesca have their first preference sheet meeting, and charter 1’s guest is Charley, who has been on Below Deck twice before. We see a montage of him complaining; Lee says in an interview he’s a handful, and makes a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow metaphor. Oh how I’ve missed Captain Lee and his idioms and colorful phrases.

The next day, Charley and his guests arrive, and the crew gets to work. Izzy seems to have trouble making drinks and keeping things running smoothly, much to Charley’s annoyance; he actually gets behind the bar and tells her he’s going to “help” her since they seem super busy. Izzy leaves and gets Francesca, who’s not too happy with this; Charley tells Francesca day 1 will be considered a “learning curve” but they better get their act together. Jeez, dude! Guests like this who are so entitled really annoy me; we’re all human beings and make mistakes. No matter how much money you’re spending, you don’t get to complain about being on a super yacht, waited on hand and foot #SorryNotSorry. One could also argue the stews weren’t even making mistakes – they just weren’t moving fast enough for the guests’ liking. In any case, this reeked of “I’m going to make a spectacle of myself for television,” so there’s also that.

Chef Rachel seems to do a great job with her food, as does Avery; Eddie says he’s “like a machine” and they’re just rolling along smoothly. #Foreshadowing… Later, Avery gets a text from his mom saying that his grandmother is “getting worse,” and he makes the decision to leave the boat to go back home to his family. He goes to talk to Captain Lee and tell him his decision; later, Lee tells Eddie what’s going on, and Eddie wishes Avery well, but now needs a new superstar deckhand…

One episode in and there’s already a crew change, an injury, and a super-entitled guest! The season started off with a bang, and it looks like things will only get crazier from here on out (before a certain virus wreaks havoc at the end of the charter season), and I’m here for the (choppy) ride! M

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