Well, we’re one episode into Season 8 of Below Deck and there are already a lot of questions to be asked: Is Captain Lee ok? Is a deckhand leaving within the first 24 hours of the season a terrible omen? And most importantly: do yachts always stock up on this many condoms?
“Well, yeah!” new chief stew Francesca Rubi told me with a laugh. “You need to have everything. You need to have cheese from France, you need to have fish from Canada, you need to have condoms in every single size. You actually need to stock every single thing possible. It’s crazy. We didn’t need that many. I mean, come on — that was a bit much.” It was a bit much! Which led to my next question: I know this is a big boat, but where do they even keep that many condoms, are they just strewn about on the guest nightstands? “We have a guest toiletries cupboard where we have all the restocking items,” Francesca dished. “I kept them in that because you don’t want to preempt or anticipate that that’s already going to happen. You think people would bring their own, normally. You think, right? But if they didn’t, then they’d probably ask me discreetly and I could get them for them, no problem. No questions asked, and no judgments. Because it’s their charter. But no, they’re not sprayed across all of the nightstands. ‘Welcome to the party!’” she laughed.
Though this party started off a bit more confusing than most, as Captain Lee was nowhere to be found on the boat once the crew started to arrive. Eddie Lucas described it as adding “to the anxiety and the panic of trying to learn a whole new boat,” and Francesca agreed. “I’ve been thrown in the deep end quite a lot in my career and in my work experience. It was a massive shock to not have him there, especially when Eddie knows him as well. It was like, ‘Oh my god. What has happened? This is a disaster.’ I didn’t even know it was gonna go ahead. Because he’s in the hospital, possibly having an operation. It was pretty devastating that he wasn’t there initially. But look, I’m so thankful and glad he’s okay. God, he’s so strong, isn’t he? To hurt your ribs like that, and then to do a whole season in so much pain. He was in a lot of pain throughout the entire season, it wasn’t just initially. And with ribs as well, you can’t put them in a cast or anything if they’re fractured or broken. It was very difficult. But I just picked up and ran with it. You’ve just got to hope for the best, and hope it’s alright. I couldn’t sit around and wait. I was like, ‘There’s something to do.’”
And for Francesca, that something was proving herself in the position. She shares in everyone’s love of former chief stew Kate Chastain and knew it would be an adjustment period — including weathering returning charter guest Charley’s shocked face when she introduced herself as the leader of the interior. “He had chartered the yacht before,” she explained. “But I didn’t really know him either. It was just like, ‘Let’s get thrown into this and let’s do it.’ But the first day — it was a shitshow. It was crazy. That’s the one charter that I probably would not want to relive again. But yeah, I think Charley and his guests definitely warmed up to me a little bit later.”
But not before they offered to make their own dang drinks! WTF? “I know!” Francesca exclaimed, sharing in our collective horror. “So unnecessary. Just chill. Yeah, sure, look: any charter guest wants something yesterday. You have to think 10 steps ahead of them. That’s totally fine, because I’m used to that. I get it. You’re paying a load of money, you want everything to be perfect. You want to have to not think about something, and it magically appears in front of you. I understand that. It’s just the dynamic of the stewardesses, I think, was the challenge there.” Oh, and something tells us there will be many more challenges to come this season…
Below Deck airs Monday at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.
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