Gabriela Reveals Juicy Details From Below Deck Yacht Sailing - Exclusive Interview

When you imagine a sailing yacht, the first thing to come to mind may be the wealthy guests who charter them. However, Bravo's reality series, "Below Deck Sailing Yacht," takes you behind the scenes to see all the work the crew puts in. The show has just entered Season 3 and is once again following Captain Glenn Shephard and his crew throughout the charter season. There's plenty of drama, rivalries, and romances to see as the team lives and works in close quarters.

Gabriela Barragan joined the crew of Parsifal III as one of the stewardesses this season, but she's had plenty of experience on other yachts and as a bartender in the past. During an exclusive interview with The List, Barragan revealed the hardest parts of being a yachtie, and if real life on Parsifal III is as dramatic as it seems on screen. She also shared how she manages tensions with crewmates and deals with pushy guests.

What it's like having no privacy on the yacht

What first made you want to work on a yacht?

Travel, first of all, and the money. I really feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. As left-field as it probably seemed to my friends and family, for me, I was like, "This is perfect for me." I bartend, I already work in hospitality. I'd rather do this on a mega-yacht in some exotic location and save money while I'm doing it.

How did being filmed, while you were making ["Below Deck Sailing Yacht"], how did that affect the work you do?

I definitely don't think being filmed made my job any different than it normally is — only when I would bump into a camera person, or they would fall down the stairs backward on accident. I'd be like, "Oh my God, are you okay?" And then it's like, "Oh shoot, I can't talk to you." That was a little weird, not being able to talk to my other off-camera coworkers in terms of the cameramen and the sound people. Aside from that, I did my job exactly how I would on any boat. 

There was a little bit of pressure to do my job extra well because there's an audience watching back home that would be like, "She didn't do that right." I wanted to represent all the boats I have worked on really well and all of the Chief Stews that I've come across during my career. I wanted to make yachties watching proud, like, "Oh, she really does know what she's doing." There's a little bit of added pressure, but I forgot the cameras were there half the time.

It looks like, when you're watching, that it's already really close quarters. Was it ever hard when you have the cameraman added into where there's already not a lot of space?

Yes, but mostly in the crew quarters, in the hallway going up the stairs to my cabin and in between the laundry room. That was the part where you're like, "Ph, excuse me. I'm going to squeeze right past ya. Pardon me. Excuse me. I got somewhere to go." In our cabins, when Ashley and I are talking while we're getting ready, and then a camera guy comes in out of nowhere, and we're like, "Ah! Oh." It's three of us in this tiny cabin and a huge camera. That was interesting.

Did you have any privacy at all while you were on the show?

There is no privacy in yachting. There is no privacy in boating. Where there are cameras in your cabin, and you're sleeping, or changing, or whatever, climbing in the bed and with your underwear on, you're just like, "Oh, there's ten people in the control room that are seeing me naked right now." You're like, "Whatever. It is what it is."

Why yacht life is 'like living with your entire family'

What's it like living in such close quarters with the rest of the crew?

It's like living with your entire family in a one-bedroom apartment, where it's so intimate. We're washing each other's underwear and then folding them neatly and putting them back in each other's bedrooms. It's such an intimate setting, and you get to know people so fast. Time moves differently on yachts. You go from zero to a hundred. You've seen everyone at their best and at their worst in a short amount of time because it's a high-pressure environment. You make friendships quicker. You fall in love quicker. You hate people quicker than you normally would. It's a Petri dish for drama.

Did you feel like you bonded pretty quickly, or got to know everyone really fast on the show? The other crew members?

I bonded right off the bat with Tom [Pearson]. I love people that make me laugh, and he's hysterical. Everything that comes out of his mouth is funny. Then Kelsie [Goglia], and I don't know if it's like a San Diego thing, but San Diego girls are different. She's down to earth, gorgeous, super smart, also very funny. She is very sweet and sensitive. She's the one you can bare your heart to, and she's going to be like, "Everything's going to be okay." I really, really fell in love with Tom and Kelsey right off the bat.

What it was like joining the Parsifal III crew

Did you ever imagine yourself being on a reality TV show?

Not really, but all my friends, my entire life, have told me that I'm made for reality TV. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it was no surprise when I got asked to be on the show. It was like, "This makes sense." I don't do anything half-assed. It's like, go big, [or] go home. If I'm going to be dramatic, I might as well do it on television.

What were your expectations going onto the show?

Parsifal III is the largest yacht I've worked on. I was really nervous about the job. I wasn't thinking about the show. I was like, "This is another freelance, temporary contract for me on a way bigger boat." [It's] the busiest charter boat I've worked on. I was really nervous about performing well, so I didn't really have any expectations. I expected to make friends, make money and have a good time.

Was there anything about the experience that surprised you?

Everything's new, and you can't even imagine what anything like that would be like. I was surprised at all of the work that the production crew puts into this and has to [do to] make this show what it is. I was very impressed by production and all of the moving parts of making a show like this. That was the most eye-opening — getting to see behind the scenes and how this works is like mind-boggling. These people are really good at what they do. That was the most surprising. I'm really impressed with them.

Did you feel like it was a big adjustment, like you said, going into this bigger yacht, or was it pretty easy to pick it up?

No, not for me. I felt like I was trained so well on all of my previous yachts, and I have high standards, so it was like riding a bike. It's like bartending; it's muscle memory at this point. The intimidation I had working on a boat of this size wore off immediately. I'm like, "I know what I'm doing." The first thing you do when you start working on a yacht is you open every cabinet, so you know where everything is. I'm opening cabinets and finding out where things are. I was doing what I would normally do, and it all came to me, like, "Oh yeah, I'm ready for this. The size doesn't matter."

Is yacht life really as dramatic as it seems?

On the other yachts you've worked on in the past, is there really as much drama as people see on the show, or is it played up for the cameras? Is that normal just in life [on a yacht]?

Oh, the million dollar question. Everyone asks this. You can't make this s*** up, honestly. Sometimes, it's even juicier drama, and I'm eating my popcorn, like, "Ooh."

There are boat-mances that get really messy. There are power dynamic struggles. What you see on the show is exactly what happens off-camera on yachts. It's regular yachts, [but] they're discreet. What happens on this boat usually stays on the boat. People are hush-hush, no one talks about it, but the drama is 100% real and always juicy.

You said you'd be like eating popcorn, watching it. Are you usually kind of more of an observer? Like, "I'm going to watch this play out," or do you ever get involved in the drama?

I wish I was more like a Colin [Macrae], who drops a little seed in someone's head and  sits back and watches it happen. I'm more of a nurturer, and my natural maternal instincts come out when I see people having a hard time. I'm kind of an empath, so I can feel other people's pain, or anger, or frustration. I want everyone to be happy. If everyone's happy, I'm happy. I'm usually trying to give advice and speak life into people. I'm all about praising your friends, hyping people up, and that's usually the role I would play, but it does get sticky when two people are fighting, and you like both of them.

"What do I say here?" I'm never a Switzerland. I'm never neutral. I also don't pick sides. I'll break it down, tell you the truth and tell the other person the truth too. To answer your question, yes, I get involved. The long-winded way of saying that, but yeah.

Is the show accurate to what really happened?

What's it been like for you seeing the episodes back now? Is it kind of playing out how you remembered? [Even though] they have to edit it into shorter time frames, obviously.

I'm biting my nails off. What I'm seeing, I'm like, "Yes, that wasn't in my head. That was happening." Everything is playing out exactly how I remembered it, 100%. Even though I haven't seen the next episode, I have a feeling like, "Oh, I remember when that happened." I know what's going to happen on the next episode. So yeah, it's actually validating how I felt when I was in the moment to see it from everyone's perspective that I didn't hear because I was upstairs serving drinks. I'm like, "Oh, this is making more sense." It's really [about] answering a lot of questions for me and reassuring my experience.

How Gabriela stays polite when guests cross her boundaries

In the first episode, there's a part where one of the guests starts being inappropriate towards you, and you're very professional and like staying polite, but shutting it down. Is it ever difficult for you where you have to stay smiley and be kind, but at the same time, you [want to say], "You're the problem, you need to go"?

I have a pin that says "polite as f***." I am polite as f***. I could see in the clip where my body language, I look deflated, and I'm completely exhausted and over this conversation. I'm getting more and more uncomfortable in my own skin by the second, but yes, the guests shouldn't be able to tell when you're uncomfortable. The guests shouldn't be able to tell what any of the yacht crew is feeling. If they're pissed off or hungover or anything, it's our job to keep this veneer. Gary (King) would say, "Stew Face on."

It's really difficult being sexually harassed. What do you do? I feel like, again, all of my experience, in my careers before yachting, came out and like really took care of me. It wasn't me talking. It was 15 years of experience before this, naturally like, "Okay, sir, now you're crossing the line. You need to go to bed." It was very easy for me to do that, despite how uncomfortable I was. How can I politely tell him to respect me while he is disrespecting me, but without beating him down and making him feel really dumb? I know a lot of people would've been like, "I would've," but it's like, you can't do that in this setting. You have to find sneaky ways to make what you're saying sound nice. It's a skill. It's an Olympic sport. It's mental gymnastics.

And you're like the gold medalist.

Yeah. Like, where's my gold medal?

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The most difficult part of working on a yacht

What would you say is the most difficult part of your job?

Maintaining interpersonal relationships with your crew. On yachts, I like the fact that it's very straightforward. If there's a problem, you have to talk about it immediately and squash it because tensions build and rise and then explode, and it's not good for anybody. That's the hardest part. Everything else to me is a piece of cake. "Oh, you want a cocktail? Sure. You want me to make a charcuterie board? Why not? I don't want to wake up chef. Want me to set up a jet ski? Fine." I can do all of that stuff quite easily. It's the maintaining healthy relationships with your coworkers, so you guys have a healthy work environment, that's the hardest part.

Do you feel like you have any like philosophy for how you go about that?

Girl, I am still trying to figure it out. I am quite an emotional person, and sometimes there's no room for feelings on a yacht. It's like, "No one cares." And I'm like, "But, but, but." I'm still figuring it out. I think I would tell any new yacht crew not to be like, "Check your feelings at the door," but work through your feelings before you make a big stink about it to everyone that's willing to lend an ear. It doesn't ever end well.

Would Gabriela come back for another season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht?

If there's a Season 4 of "Below Deck Sailing Yacht," would you think about joining the crew?

If they give me a call and ask me to film Season 4, I 100% would do it again. Absolutely, hands down. I would like to explore the option of maybe being a deckhand, because I do both. I would excel on outside. I think I'm equally both on interior or exterior. I would try to plant that seed, like, "Hey, what about bringing me back as a deckhand?" That would be really fun, but if they're like, "You're not qualified," then I'd be like, "Okay, I'm still going to do it again, so throw me where you want me."

Well, perfect. I hope you come back for Season 4.

Thank you.

Season 3 of Below Deck Sailing Yacht airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.