It’s no surprise that Below Deck: Sailing Yacht chief stew Daisy Kelliher is a big sister in real life. “I am a big sister! I am. Oh God … so transparent,” she accepts over Zoom. Kelliher often talks about her “Mom Daisy” persona, but her big-sister energy is what drips through the screen. She’s protective of her girls and doesn’t want them making the same mistakes she did in her early days. And after 10 years in the yachting industry, Kelliher knows a thing or two. “I’m a little bit older and I’ve been there, done that. If I’m not gonna look after them, who will?” she says.
There was a lot to look after this season: Gary’s womanizing ways, feuds erupting between Ashley and Gabriela, and new personalities coming aboard halfway through — not to mention being down a stew for a couple of charters. Kelliher had her hands full, but it paid off. By the season finale, she granted Ashley a promotion, made bank, and clarified her relationship with Gary, which she admits is still complicated.
Ashley was deeply moved when you promoted her at the final tip meeting. What are your thoughts on her growth throughout the season?
She was somebody I’d never met before. It was a really strange thing to witness. Nowadays there’s a lot of female independence and empowerment. I’ve grown up in this generation, so it was weird for Ashley to come in with a really old-school mentality. It really threw me. So I was determined to show her that she was worth more. She was a great stew and super-fun to be around. And she has so many other qualities than the ones she saw herself. So I was quite determined for her to see herself through our eyes.
She was so proud of herself in the finale!
We had several conversations, and she told me that people have never recognized her for anything but the way she looks. From what she told me, I was the only person who’d recognized her for something more than that. I believe it, too. I believe what she says because her nature definitely gave off that impression that she saw herself as nothing but a sex symbol. I don’t know what people have been in her life who have given her this guidance, but in my opinion, it wasn’t very good guidance.
One of my favorite moments from the season was when all the girls played “Fuck, Marry, Kill.” Of course, everyone wanted to marry Colin. He had a girlfriend, so it made sense that nobody went for him, but why didn’t anyone make a move for Marcos?
Everyone asks this. It’s like Tinder: What the viewers are seeing is a profile and a face. There’s so much more to a person. Obviously he’s very handsome and highly skilled, but it’s more than that. He was also a good 20 years older than some of the girls. And I personally would’ve thought it was kind of weird, but I think I’m the only person who seems to think that. I don’t think a 40-year-old and a 60-year-old is that weird, but I think a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old …
I didn’t realize he was 40!
He’s 43! Everyone was really pushing it, and I’m like, This is making me feel really uncomfortable. I would lose my shit if my 20-year-old came home with a 40-year-old. He obviously looks very young and he is super-handsome, but he didn’t have as much in common with the girls. I think he had some personal stuff with an on-and-off girlfriend, as we all do.
Speaking of off-screen romances, what is it like dating as a yachty? How do you even do that?
You don’t. [Laughs] No, you do. It’s so hard. I haven’t managed it. I’ve had a few brief romances, but one guy I was dating — my boat was going to New Zealand, his boat was going to Palma, and that was the end of it, you know? I didn’t see him again for, like, four years.
Not to echo the final charter guests, but what are your thoughts on marriage?
In the final episode, I get all like, “Maybe there’s true love!” I think I just got really emotional, because I’m really not like that. I’m not really fussed about getting married. I definitely believe in monogamy, mainly because I’m a really jealous and insecure person. But a marriage? I would love a commitment, and I think a marriage is a good way to show a commitment to somebody, but I definitely won’t be spending my money on a big wedding. I’d rather buy a house or put money toward holidays. So I don’t ever see myself personally getting married.
I know you talk about you and Gary ad nauseam, so I don’t want to spend too much time on him, but I need to get your thoughts on the hookup that almost happened in the finale.
To be honest, that episode was really hard for me to watch, and I didn’t know anything. The kiss I was way more prepared for, because I knew I kissed Gary and the crew had told me I’d kissed Gary. I’d actually even spoken to some of the production staff and obviously did a load of green screens, so I was very prepared for that. We actually never spoke in my green screens about that last night, so I never knew that was coming. I had no idea about the comments that Gary was saying behind my back of being like, “I wanna hook up with Daisy.” I had no clue. I had no idea how flirty we were and how close we were to hooking up, so for me that was really difficult to watch and very, very embarrassing.
Thank God he was taking his time and I went to bed, because while watching it, I could see that I was seriously contemplating it. I don’t know; I wouldn’t have slept with him. There are a few times during the season that the audience doesn’t see where I do get into bed with Gary and we talk. I talk with the boys, and he is very affectionate. He is a very welcoming person. I think I was very, very close to getting into bed with him. I think he was just taking so long that my sober brain was going, “Okay, Daisy, time for bed.” And I just have so much relief in me that I went to bed.
Do you watch every episode in real time?
I do. It’s obviously really hard to watch myself. I cringe. I’m like, “Ugh, your ass, go do a squat.” And my voice, I’m like, “How can anyone listen to me?” But overall, I think the show is funny. It’s weird … I know what I said, but I didn’t know what the other eight people said. So I found out quite a lot during this season that I had no idea was going on.
Gary very much was like, “Ashley’s obsessed with me.” I had a good feeling that he was leading her on, and I’d been told it a bit more …. But it was like, Oh, you were fully just involved in it. He would very much throw her under the bus to me, being like, “She’s crazy.” Even the day on the bow, the very first night, he was like, “She kissed me,” and I’m like, “What? She may have kissed you, but you very much welcomed it with open arms. You happen to leave that very important part out.”
What are the plans right now for next season? Will we see the core group again?
Like I tell everyone, there’s several circumstances. I need to be asked back. I also need to see what’s happening in my life. It’s a big commitment. Maybe I’ll get a boyfriend. [Laughs.] I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one, but, yeah, we’ll have to see what happens. If the circumstances are right on both ends, I had a great two seasons, so yeah, I would do it again.
This interview has been edited and condensed.