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Captain Glenn on What Caused Below Deck Sailing Yacht's Boat Crash: "That's Never Happened Before"

The Below Deck Sailing Yacht crew and producers open up about the chaos on deck and in the interior.

By Laura Rosenfeld

It was one of the most chaotic days in Below Deck history.

During an incredibly windy day in Croatia, the Parsifal III drifted toward the dock in the May 10 episode of Below Deck Sailing Yacht. With the bow rubbing up against the dock, the deck crew sprung into action. Captain Glenn Shephard ultimately resolved that they needed to leave immediately. 

But after unplugging the shore power, the yacht's generators didn't start up automatically, leaving the ship with no power at all. And all of this was happening when chief engineer Colin MacRae was off the boat.  

Luckily, first mate Gary King was able to start up the generator again. And the deck team successfully pulled up the anchors that had been dragging so the Parsifal III could smoothly get moving.

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The Boat Loses All Its Power
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When Captain Glenn assessed the damage to the bow, he was actually relieved. "It's a lot better than I was imagining," he told Jean-Luc Cerza-Lanaux on deck. "It ain't pretty, but it could have been way worse, man."

Unfortunately, things did get worse for the Parsifal III crew in the May 17 episode. Later while coming into port, the yacht kept moving back toward the dock as Captain Glenn tried to propel it forward. With something apparently wrong with the engine, the Parsifal III ended up crashing into the dock.

During an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider before this season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht premiered, Captain Glenn said that "a combination of things" caused the accident. "The boat didn’t react in the way it normally reacts. I was using a different maneuver mode. And there’s a computer in between the throttles and the propeller that adjusts the load on the engine," he explained. "Maybe my inputs were too much for the computer and it kind of, I don’t know, froze or didn’t react in the right way. I’m not really 100 percent sure. But I was pushing ahead and it was still moving backwards, which is not normal."

He also emphasized the complexity and rarity of the situation. "It’s complicated. But we have a kind of a malfunction. I’m responsible for whatever happens, and I ended up in a situation where I kind of lost control of the boat a little bit because it wasn’t responding in the way it normally responds," Captain Glenn said. "I’ve parked the boat, I don’t know how many times, probably over 100 times, and in more challenging situations. On this one, a couple things just went wrong. That’s never happened before."

Captain Glenn described this moment as "kind of a low point in my career." "It was caught on film. And so now everyone’s gonna see it, all my buddies are gonna see it," he said. "But yeah, those things do happen. You get maybe one or two of those in a career. And then if you keep doing that, you’re not gonna be driving boats."

Captain Glenn and the deck crew weren't the only ones feeling the intensity during the crash. "It was very, very scary," second stew Dani Soares recalled during a separate interview with Bravo Insider. "The whole boat felt it. And we were just really, really worried. We were worried about the deck crew, because they were out there trying to, you know, deal with lines and stuff like that. We were worried about Glenn, 'cause obviously he got so upset about it. And we were worried that maybe if that door didn't open, the back door of the boat after the crash, we probably wouldn't be able to continue with the season either. So [we were] worried about everything."

As Dani noted, after the crash, there was great concern that the platform door wouldn't open due to all of the damage to the transom. "It's where all the toys are. It's how the people get on and off the boat when they're swimming," Colin explained during the episode. "If we can't get this door to open, our charter season's over. Everyone can go home. We're just done."

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Captain Glenn Shephard Loses Control of the Sailing Yacht
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The platform door still operated normally thanks to sheer luck, according to Captain Glenn. "The point of the transom is the perfect height to hit some big blocks of concrete and slice underneath them and just lift them up," he said during the episode. "We got a lucky break."

Waiting to find out the fate of the boat — and, in turn, the charter season — was not only nerve-racking for the crew but also for those behind the scenes, as executive producer Jill Goslicky explained to Bravo Insider. "It’s one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve seen on the show. Every time I watch the footage, it actually makes me have a physical reaction to it that’s nauseating. It’s hard to watch," she said of the dock crash. "The first thing, A, is everyone OK? Everyone’s OK. OK, B, does the boat still operate? And for about two hours, we weren’t sure. I’m not kidding, it’s a miracle season. The winds blew in the right direction just when we needed them to, and I can’t believe we’re here posting it."

What was also surprising for production was to see the usually calm, cool, and collected Captain Glenn shouting expletives after the yacht hit the dock. That was "so telling," according to Matt Reichman, Vice President of Current Production at Bravo, who described Captain Glenn as "one of the most zen-like authority figures" in all of Below Deck. "He’s not the parent that yells and gets mad; he’s the one that gets disappointed. And it sort of like cuts to your soul if you disappoint Glenn," he told Bravo Insider. "And you don’t see him get upset often. And you’re gonna see it this season. It resonates."

Goslicky added that Captain Glenn's reaction exemplifies how he approaches problems on board. "It’s like, this is what he cares about," Goslicky said. "This is why he doesn’t sweat the small stuff; he’s saving it for the big stuff."

Captain Glenn told Bravo Insider that he felt like the severity of the situation warranted that kind of reaction. "Hitting the dock like that can end the season. People can get injured. It’s big ramifications. It was something that was completely unexpected. And yeah, of course it’s really bad. And at the moment that I’m reacting I don’t know how bad it is because I’m at least 30 meters, like 100 feet, away from that transom, and I can’t see it. You know, I’m relying on people telling me distances and stuff. So when we hit, I feel it, but I don’t know how bad it is," he said. "So I’m reacting, and yeah, I’m quite upset. I’m a sailor, and I swear sometimes. I lose my composure if something really serious happens. And that was pretty serious."

Anybody in his shoes probably would have responded the same way, according to Captain Glenn. "I mean, if you smashed your car against a wall and did serious damage to your car, you’d probably be quite upset, too," he said. "People, I think, will be able to relate to it. I try not to get like that, but occasionally things get the better of me."

Captain Glenn said that he is just glad that they were able to continue on with the charter season with relatively little damage. "Look, it could have been a lot worse than it was," he shared. "Could easily have been a lot worse than it was."

Want more Below Deck Sailing Yacht? New episodes air every Monday at 9/8c or catch up on the Bravo app.