Kelley Johnson had only one thing on his mind when he returned to Below Deck this season. "It was all about redemption," the bosun told The Daily Dish. "I didn't like the way Season 2 went for me. Once I got asked back, I just had to take this opportunity to show everybody out there and Captain Lee [Rosbach] who I really am."
Let's just say that Kelley's episodes of sluggishness, over-the-top emotion, and his focus on his budding relationship with Jennice Ontiveros didn't exactly make him a star deckhand in Captain Lee's eyes during Season 2. "Just watching myself, I cringed a lot during Season 2," Kelley said. "And coming into this season, I just wanted to show [Captain Lee] what I could really do and what other boats had seen me do while I was working on them. I looked up to Captain Lee on Season 2 — it may not have shown through during that season — but I really do look up to Captain Lee, and so earning a good job from him is a very big deal to me."
Even though Season 2 wasn't the smoothest sailing for Kelley, he got right back into yachting after it ended, eventually earning the title of first mate on a 145-foot Westship yacht before working on a Sportfish, a boat used for fishing tournaments, which is where he had been working before he joined the Below Deck crew this season. "My experience in yachting has grown," Kelley said. "I've been on a boat since I left Season 2. I have not taken, basically, any hiatus from yachting."
Still, Kelley said it was "stressful" being back on Below Deck this season "because of my experiences last time." But we're also seeing a different side of Kelley this season. "I've matured a lot. Watching Season 2 really helped me do that. It gave me a way to look at myself after something had happened and time had passed so I could look at it from, 'I'm not so upset right now,'" he explained. "And it's allowed me to grow my leadership and my respect for authority on vessels. And it's also allowed me to — when I do interact in a situation that maybe [is] not the best — I do it under a cooler head than I used to."
In fact, keeping his cool was another major priority for Kelley this season. "My main goal, my very first main goal was not to cry. [Laughs.] I'm an emotional person, and I really saw that on Season 2, and I've taken a lot of steps in taking a step back and not getting emotional," Kelley said. "That was a big thing right there is when I get emotional, I react, whether it's in anger or sadness or whatever, I react poorly. And so for me, the biggest thing that I saw is I need to control my emotions and look at it from a logical point-of-view instead of an emotional point-of-view. And that's why I was able to deal with Trevor [Walker] much more calmly than I would have."
As bosun, Kelley was stern but fair in disciplining deckhand Trevor, whose hard-partying ways off the boat eventually led to him getting fired. Though Trevor was a main source of conflict when he was on the Valor, Kelley teased that there's plenty more drama to come this season. "Drama between crew [members] happens, whether it's on a TV show or whether it's on a regular boat," he said.
But all in all, Kelley seems to have a much more positive outlook after filming this season of Below Deck. "And the beauty of it all is how it's resolved," Kelley said of this season's drama. "And it's a really cool experience to share that with somebody and to deal with everyday work and the drama between the crew and then coming together, completing charters, dealing with the drama, and all of us coming together as just one and getting the job done."
Watch Kelley get the job done sans shirt, below. It's nice to see that some things haven't changed.