"From the outside it’s just extremely regretful to watch that type of behavior," Ashton said of seeing this season of Below Deck during an interview with The Daily Dish over the phone on January 8. "It’s tough to watch. Honestly it’s tough, and it’s embarrassing, and I’m ashamed of my behavior."
As the episodes have gotten more and more intense this season, Ashton has taken a step back from social media, staying off Twitter and Instagram for about a month until he shared a new post on January 7 to commemorate the new year ahead. "It was a lot to take on and, and, you know, it’s very easy to kind of fall into a depressed state when people are so aggressively negative towards you," Ashton said of his social media hiatus. "So, for me, it was just kind of keeping my own sanity and just kind of getting control of my own thoughts. And not letting things get to me in too extreme of a negative way."
Much of the conflict of this season of Below Deck has centered on Ashton and Kate Chastain. But the bosun and chief stew, respectively, actually started off this season in a much different place. After working together for the first time in Season 6, they came into this season of Below Deck as friends.
However, Ashton said that the "turning point" in his relationship with Kate came when he confronted her as she tossed the crew's uniforms on the floor in front of Captain Lee Rosbach after a night out in Thailand. "Her and I up until that point actually had a really good relationship," Ashton said. "I think that she obviously felt undermined in that situation. And I kind of feel like ever since that she had it out for me."
But it was Ashton's next confrontation with Kate that he would come to regret the most. Things got heated between the two during the van ride back to the boat after one of the crew's nights out. "If I could do it, you know, do a redo kind of thing, then I’d probably make sure personally that I don’t let myself get that drunk," Ashton said of the incident. "It’s probably my biggest regret from the season that I allowed myself to get to that level."
Ashton said that he has since cut down on his drinking due to his renewed focus on health and fitness, including meditation, these days. "I’d already started making those kind of changes in my life prior to [Below Deck Season 7 airing]. Seeing that happen kind of just cemented my decision to not binge drink," Ashton said. "I’m really just focusing on my health and my fitness and my mental health at the moment."
The bosun said he hasn't spoken to Kate since this season of Below Deck ended, and he's not sure if the two can ever get back to a good place. "I honestly do not see a friendship between Kate [and] I moving forward," he said. "I think she has made her intentions clear through what she has said in the Below Deck After Show clips and her social media posts. However, I don't hold grudges."
Captain Lee has also been vocal with his criticism of Ashton this season of Below Deck, saying that he is "terribly disappointed" in how the bosun has behaved off the yacht during his appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on January 6. "Quite honestly, I am disappointed in my own behavior so, I can’t blame him," Ashton said of Captain Lee's comments during his interview with The Daily Dish. "Had I been able to keep it together in the social environments, I think he would have paid more attention to the positive work we got done on deck."
Whether or not he'll be able to repair his relationship with Captain Lee in the future is "a hard question" for Ashton to answer right now. "I’m always a pretty open person," Ashton said. "I can put this thing to the side, and I can kind of move forward in an adult and professional manner. So, from my side I’d probably be able to do that. I just see that he’s very [one-track-minded] with his opinion at the moment."
Overall, Ashton said that he is proud of how he led Valor's deck crew, and he has continued working in yachting since the season ended. "I’m currently working on a boat. Pretty much since I left filming, I’ve gone to Florida and joined a yacht," he said. "I work for a great family. I’m gonna keep carrying on working for them."
He has also begun a new relationship since disembarking the Valor. "Since filming, I have started dating an amazing woman who has supported me in decisions with healthy eating, training, and increased focus on mind and meditation," Ashton said. "I believe that I am building some good foundations for positive change."
Reliving the ups and downs of this season of Below Deck has ultimately been an educational experience for Ashton. "It’s tough on us that we have cameras on us 24/7," he said. "But, you know, looking at it from a positive light, we get to see how we act and behave. We have the power now to make the necessary adjustments to better ourselves and to better our behavior and make sure those types of things don’t happen again."
Watch Ashton open up more about this season in the Below Deck Season 7 After Show, above.
Check out a preview of an all-new episode of Below Deck on Monday, January 13 at 9/8c, below. Catch up on the season anything through the Bravo app.
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