Talk Nerdy With Us had the pleasure of chatting with Below Deck’s Don Abenante. Don is from a small town in Rhode Island. After graduating college, Don was asked to fix an engine on a yacht. He fell in love with the beauty of ships and has been working on them for the past eight years.
Read our interview with Don below and tune into a new episode of Below Deck tonight at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.
How did you get involved with Below Deck?
“This was one of those opportunities that fell into my lap. I worked as an engineer on a charter yacht with Kate Chastain and during that time we made a connection and we became close. That bitchy resting face turns into a stunning smile with a few simple fun remarks and my goofy accent. She told me about her previous season on the show and how she thought I would be a great fit being as fun and outrageous as I am sometimes. In this industry its hard to find engineers period but let alone with a smile on their face. So, when Below Deck starting looking for new crew members I reached out to them and gave it a shot. I need to thank Kate again for that one!”
You seem to struggle with your position and rank on this charter, how is your position on Eros different from other charters you’ve done before?
“I had a unique role on this yacht. I was a second engineer/deckhand and each of these roles is very important on a vessel, but are also drastically different. Besides being located in two completely different parts of the yacht (one in the engine room and the other dealing with everything on deck), they are both very time-consuming roles if you do them well. Now, I have always been one who puts 100% into every job I have, so the challenge for me was to do both of these jobs well without letting anyone down. The biggest difference from this position than other ones I have had in the past was the combination of the two jobs, normally you are either an engineer or a deckhand due to the amount of work in each role.”
How big of an issue is space on the Yacht?
“Space has never been a problem for me since I’m a tiny guy rolling in a whopping 5’7” haha, so getting through tiny door way and companion ways is a bit of a sport for me. As with any yacht, some crew quarters are better than others, but the “Eros” had by far one of the best setups I have been on.”
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been by Yacht?
“Wow, that is so tough to answer, because so many places have their own texture and appeal. For me, it seems to be the visuals when sailing into a port. This past December I was sailing on a 167 ft sailboat, leaving from Newport, RI heading straight for St Marteen. Sailing into that port never gets old; seeing the glare from the mountains and landscape, it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.”
Working on cars lead you to working on boats. What’s your favorite car you’ve ever owned?
“My favorite car is my 1970 Chevelle. I own it and this is the car my father wanted me to get with him before he passed away. After my father died, I had used the money for the funeral and other expenses, so when I was 15 years old and my grandfather was incredible and ended up making a deal and bought it for me. I have had it ever since– I know the old man would be proud.”
Does having a film crew there make a big difference? Or are they hardly noticeable?
“In the beginning, it was so strange having the film crew around, between eating and changing you wondered what was so important in that moment that they needed to film. They capture everything and after a day or two you actually get used to it. You learn to walk around them when shooting and you can even tell when they are focusing on you in that moment. it was truly an incredible experience. After a few more days you totally forget that they are around and that’s when the funny moments happen!”
What’s the best yacht you’ve ever worked on?
“Best yacht I have ever worked on, well I am very partial to sailboats. There is something so humbling about being out to sea and having a 167′ ft yacht being moved by the power of wind. Really nothing can compare. One of my favorites was a sailboat called Artemis out of my hometown. Sailing down to St Marteen in seven days has to be one the most incredible experience I have ever had in my yachting career.”
Is there anything from the upcoming season you can tell us?
“This season is absolutely bonkers! I can’t give anything away but all I know is you have to stay tuned for all the drama!! Especially from me. I think me and Emile get into it a few times. And me and Captain Lee have an infamous meeting.”
Would you return for a future season of Below Deck if you could?
“Oh Absolutely! I would return knowing a lot more how the process works and I would be able to communicate with Captain Lee more directly what he would like from me. The experience was something I could have never passed up and was so thrilled to do. Next time less fighting with Emile and more goofy shenanigans from me!”
Below Deck airs Tuesdays, at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.