By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
Take the globetrotting adventure of The Amazing Race, mix it up with the workplace shenanigans of Vanderpump Rules, drop the whole thing onto a superyacht and put a woman at the helm who is as comfortable joking with the crew as she is with cracking the whip.
That’s the course that Below Deck Mediterranean follows into its seventh season, as former Fort Lauderdale resident Capt. Sandy Yawn navigates the 163-foot Home to the pristine waters of Malta. The reality series spinoff airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Bravo, with new episodes streaming one week early on Peacock.
Born in Bradenton, Yawn moved to Lauderdale’s Bal Harbour neighborhood in 1987. She also lived in Plantation before moving to Denver a few years ago, where she lives with her girlfriend, Leah Rae.
From an early age, Yawn knew she wanted her career to revolve around the ocean, and the fact that yachting was a male-dominated domain didn’t take the wind out of her sails. Now with over three decades of yachting experience, she has become a highly respected captain and mentor in the industry … and, yes, a TV star.
“I think it’s because I love captaining,” Yawn told the Sun Sentinel last year. “I just love it. I think [the producers] were looking for someone, a woman in particular, who made it up from washing boats and doing the grunt work to captain. I didn’t seek it, it came to me. But I always say … when that ship comes into shore, it’s time to step onboard.”
Captain Sandy graciously retired to the captain’s quarters to answer our standard set of Quote Unquote questions.
Aside from the weather, what do you enjoy most about South Florida?
I love the fact that we have so many restaurants on the water that can be accessed by boats. You can cruise south from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and stop to have some Scoobies [blue crab fried in oil and garlic], my personal favorite at Coconuts restaurant. After lunch, you head south on the Intracoastal Waterway down to Miami, where there’s a plethora of bars and restaurants along the way. You can end your day with an incredible sunset anchor off Key Biscayne. The next morning you head out to Alabama Jacks in Key Largo, have some food, and keep going south all the way to Key West! South Florida is the best for boating all year round. Let’s not forget we have the Bahamas just 60 nautical miles from Miami.
Aside from the weather, what do you dislike most about South Florida?
The drivers! It’s insane. It’s a shocker when you live in another state and come back and drive I-95. I think we need a sign that says driving here is a risky business.
Are you a beach person or a pool person?
The beach is magical. I love the sand — after all my name is Sandy.
When in your life are you or have you been the happiest?
Always playing in the water. The inner kid in me comes out and I play like no one is watching. My entire life has been about playing in the water. As a child, I was always at the beach or on a small boat water skiing and tubing.
What do you do when you’re stuck in a traffic jam on I-95?
I listen to a local radio station because I love the banter and being informed about what is happening locally. I also love to listen to music or a good podcast.
What music are you listening to now?
Put a Little Love in Your Heart remake by Leah Rae (my love).
Are you a fan, and if so, of what?
I am a fan of the maritime industry. It’s truly an incredible industry to be a part of. From National Marine Suppliers, Quantum Marine Stabilizers, Maritime Professional Training (where I went to school), Northrup & Johnson yacht brokers, the US Superyacht Association, the International US Superyacht Society, Burgess Yachts, Fraser Yachts and Camper & Nicholson [all in Fort Lauderdale and Miami]. All the others not mentioned here (there’s too many to list) have always given back to help others in need. I love this industry and feel blessed to be a part of it. I am a fan!
If you had to choose: Beatles or Stones?
Stones for me. I love You Can’t Always Get What You Want (but you get what you need!) and Gimme Shelter and, well, let’s just say most of their songs!
What are your social media usernames?
Instagram: @captainsandrayawn; Twitter: @CaptSandyYawn; Tiktok: @capt.sandy; Facebook: @Captain Sandy Yawn
Apple or Android?
I’m an Apple girl and I love to eat them as well.
Who is your real-life hero? My sister Michelle. She left her big career to found Jacksonville School for Autism (jsakids.org) for her son and others.
What car are you driving now?
Jeep Rubicon with a 3-inch lift kit. I powder-coated the rims to match my Jeep color. It’s so much fun. I asked Leah to buy me an Aston Martin when she makes all her money!
If you had to choose: Rocky or Raging Bull?
What do you like most about yourself?
My kindness. I honestly wish that more people could lead with kindness, especially the trolls on social media. No one knows what someone might be going through. It’s so simple to do and feels really good after you do it.
What places in South Florida do you recommend to guests visiting from out-of-town? Coconuts, of course, or the Rustic Inn.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would eat less sugar! I have a sweet tooth and I know it’s not good for me. I would like to change that and, of course, take care of my mind, body and spirit.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
All of it, I guess! It’s the journey of life. My achievements are ongoing. One accomplishment is Captain Sandy’s Charities. The funding allows for us to get into schools across the country and educate children about our oceans and seas. My most recent accomplishment is writing my book called Be the Calm or Be the Storm. It took over three years to put together and it was a lot of work. Also, I think when we work for something and don’t give up, that’s a huge accomplishment and an incredible feeling.
PHOTO: Courtesy Bravo/Laurent Basse