‘Below Deck’: Eddie Lucas Says Losing a Deckhand on The First Day Was “A Swift Kick In The Nuts”

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Eddie Lucas is a Below Deck OG: he was a cast member from Seasons 1-3, and he’s returned for Season 8, which is unlike any other season he’s ever encountered on the show. He hopped on a Zoom call last week, right after he’d gotten off his shift on a tugboat in Maryland, pouring a requisite beer from its bottle into a glass, to chat what’s ahead on the Bravo series this time around.

Here, we discussed what it was like for him to board a yacht without Captain Lee present (yikes), what he was really thinking when he lost a deckhand before the first charter even started (double yikes), and that damn slide the guests seem to love so much (infinity yikes).

DECIDER: Why was this the right time for you to come back to the show?

EDDIE LUCAS: Well, it’s been five, six years now, since I’ve been gone. Right now, I just think it’s a good point in my life and in my career — my career on tugboats — to come back and make a new appearance. Change things up a bit, you know?

What’s the tugboat life like? How is it different from yachting?

Oh, it’s so different. [During my] hiatus from the show, I upgraded my license to a 1,600-ton license. I run as a mate now, on tractor tugs in Baltimore Harbor. Our job is we dock the big ships that come into the harbor. They can’t navigate the channels on their own, so we tie up to them, push and pull them into the [port]. It’s really different, because unlike getting on a yacht where you also work a season — could be a month, two months, or longer — I work two weeks on, two weeks off on the tugboat. I only work on a four-man crew, me included. It’s a smaller boat. It’s a workboat; it’s blue-collar work. It’s fantastic. It’s challenging. It’s difficult. It can be risky at times; it has quite a bit of inherent risk involved. But there’s no stainless steel to polish, there are no decks to scrub. And definitely, definitely no slide to set up, which I like.

That’s good for everyone. I feel like this is definitely a first, but you get to the boat and Captain Lee isn’t there. You remained pretty cool, but you could tell you were definitely confused. What was that like?

Well, getting onto any boat that you’ve never been on before and don’t know where anything is, is daunting. But getting onto a 186-foot boat and knowing that you’re going to have charter guests coming on within 24-48 hours is — I mean, it’s panic-inducing. It’s terrifying. Without Captain Lee there to be giving me direction, it’s really just kind of like, “Well, oh shit. What do I do now?” And I don’t know where anything is, so I might as well just start opening hatches and just figuring things out myself. It’s really the only thing you can do. “What does this button do?” It’s stressful. But then also, coming onto the boat, supposedly working with Captain Lee, and then him not being there, which is strange, that’s unlike him. Him not answering his phone is strange, and not like him. So all these things adding up also create this sensation of: something is very wrong. That kind of added to the anxiety and the panic of trying to learn a whole new boat. But then also, is everything okay? Are we going to actually be able to run this charter season, this upcoming charter? That definitely added to the whole issue of it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him this vulnerable and in pain. Have you ever seen him like this before?

No, I’ve never seen him in such pain. I know that he has had his fair share of injuries. He’s a friend of mine now, and he definitely shares those things with me of injuries he goes through, surgeries and whatnot. I know there have been times where I’ve been with him and he’s been in pain, but he never shows it. He’s always a very stoic, strong individual who doesn’t like to be open about his weaknesses. And maybe that’s kind of the difference between when I first met him until now, is that he can be a little more open with me. The old man just turned 70. He’s no spring chicken. I care about him, and I worry about him. That definitely comes into effect throughout the season quite a bit.

Well, he wasn’t the only one in pain. Let’s talk about the physical adjustment for you, as your muscles were feeling it too.

Yeah, I lost feeling in my arms for a while. I’ve been sailing since I was a baby, but working professionally [on boats] since I was 18, 19. That lifestyle takes a toll on you: being on deck, getting slammed by waves. Now, handling heavy lines, heavy equipment, down on your knees, tripping and painting. Dealing with all of that fun tugboat stuff. It kind of beats you up a bit. I definitely have had my fair share of injuries where it comes to my back. My whole spinal cord, pretty much, has taken a beating. Now, doing these little jobs and heaving all these heavy toys — the slide — it has taken a toll on me at this sweet age of 35. Also, going from a tugboat where I’m primarily found in the wheelhouse, sitting down for 12 hours a day, driving, my body’s not used to this constant physical labor. So it beat me up a bit this season. It was just kind of a feeling that I shouldn’t be on deck anymore. [Laughs]

Tell me a little bit about the deck team. We see Shane is already quite the character, what was your first impression of James, and how do they grow over the season? 

Yeah, first impressions: Shane, brand new. Green as green can be. When I asked him his experience working on boats, he said that he worked on a 16-foot Chaparral, a bowrider. When he said that, I was like: “Ha, ha, ha! That’s not working on a boat, man. That’s pleasure riding. You probably went water skiing or something.” So he said that, and I was like, “Uh, I’m gonna have my work cut out with you.” But only time will tell if that works out with him. He’s a good kid. Good energy. I like where his priorities are in life. He’s an environmentalist, like myself, and I like that. His energy is different than anybody I have ever really worked with. That generation is very different, very touchy-feely, emotional kind of guy. But good kid, good kid. I think he’ll be alright later on in life. James, he has some experience. I was excited about having that. He was tall and strong, so I was excited to put the slide away with him, letting him do most of that work.

We should be playing a drinking game where we drink anytime you say slide.

We should do that. We should definitely do that. We’ll be housed by the end of this. But yeah, James is a good guy. Just a funny, goofy guy. Definitely his priorities are strange. But he was a lot of fun to work with. Happy to have him on the crew.

Let’s talk about Avery leaving. When you got word that he was leaving, did it feel like the season was already doomed, the first charter in?

When I saw Avery’s resume and got an understanding of his experience I was like, “Ah, man. I’m just going to wash my hands with all this deck work, and you can find me in the wheelhouse. Avery, you got this. See you all later. Call me if you need me. I’m out.” He was going to be a saving grace. So when he said that he was leaving after 24 hours of being there, I was like, “Welcome back to yachting! Fantastic.” It was just a swift kick in the nuts. I couldn’t believe it. But, you know, we got the job done. We had to keep moving on. Gotta do what you gotta do.

Did Shane get you to join him to do any yoga?

No. No, he did not get me to join him in doing yoga. He could get up at five in the morning to go do yoga all he wants. But I value my sleep way, way more than my flexibility. I should do yoga on a regular basis, probably. That would help me. But I don’t get enough sleep to get up early and to yoga. You are not seeing me out there.

James seems to be there for flirting, first and foremost, and then maybe some work? Did you give him any advice when it comes to romance on the yachts?

I mean, yeah. James was definitely there to look good and find girls. And he did that! As much as I advised him against that. I told him, “This is dangerous. You might not want to do this.” But he didn’t take any of my advice. And that’s fine. He’ll learn on his own. I knew what he was there to do. But I knew that I could also still utilize him and his height and his strength to my advantage. And I think we did that.

You don’t seem too interested in cultivating any sort of bro chat on the deck. I think that that’s awfully refreshing, especially after last season. Is that something you were even aware of? Or were you just like, “Let’s just get the job done”?

Really, it’s just kind of like, “Let’s just get the job done.” I went into this with a pretty large age gap between myself and my younger crew. Really, when they try talking to me about something, I’m kind of like, “I’m not relating with you, man.” Maybe that’s my age. Maybe that’s just my experience and my beliefs on life. Honestly, I was just here to get the job done. Especially in the beginning, I’m not here to be your friend. I’m your boss. And you’re going to do what I say, when I say it, and that’s how it is. We’re not here to freakin’ be friends — I’ve got enough friends.

It does look like you fall into the water an awful lot this season — is that true?

I do. I do! I went swimming more times than I ever want to. I went into the water more times accidentally than I did on purpose. It was just a bunch of situations that just didn’t work out, and I went in the water. Got wet a few times.

How do you feel about watching the coronavirus stuff on TV and seeing it come into play when that was happening?

It was really difficult to actually get a grasp on the severity of the pandemic while it was happening when we were filming. We were in the Caribbean on an island, in a bubble. Barely any time to read the news or watch the news. Barely enough time, also, to talk to friends or family back home, and to really get an understanding of how bad things were. But as the season and the virus progressed, it definitely reared its ugly head. We started getting a much better understanding of how bad things were. It was really scary to be so far away from home, be away from my family, be away from my friends and know that what they are going through, or what they could go through. So yeah, it was stressful. But also, it was stressful because I was so ignorant to what was happening.

Was it weird without Kate this season? Did you notice her absence? And also, how was Captain Lee without her there?

I noticed her absence because I knew that Kate is so good at her job. Whenever Captain Lee would give her something to do, a task, you know it would get done. She was really great, organizationally. Funny, fun — she was a friend of mine. I loved working with her. I was kind of coming into the unknown. At the same time, I had Captain Lee there, and he had me. We both know that we can rely on each other. And we both know that, between the two of us, we can get the job done. While there was something missing, I think Ches came in doing a great job. She had massive shoes to fill. She did the best job she could. I think y’all will see that it was a good job. She should be proud of the job she did. But Kate is missed a bit. I always want to work with my friends. But I’m lucky enough to call Ches a friend at the end of it — that’s something.

Anything else that you want to let people know about, as far as what’s to come this season?

Uh, lots of fun.

The slide!

The slide! There will be a slide. It will be the bane of my existence. I will hate every second. I will try to convince every single guest that comes on board not to set up the slide.

They don’t listen.

They don’t listen! They want it all. They want it all.

Below Deck airs Monday at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo. 

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