It didn't take being cast on "Below Deck" for Sayville's Tanner Sterback to see the world. "I'm going to Oktoberfest," he told us recently, minutes before leaving to fly to that annual extravaganza in Munich, Germany. His Instagram is littered with photos of him in Moscow, Prague, St. Lucia, San Francisco and elsewhere, including snowboarding in the Austrian Alps. But, he concedes, his Bravo reality show about the crew of a luxury charter yacht, which begins season 7 Monday at 9 p.m., finally got him to Asia.
"That was the farthest that I've been away from home," says Sterback, 26. "I mean, getting paid to be in Thailand, it's something special that I don't want to take for granted. I'm hanging in one of the most beautiful places in the world and getting paid to do it."
Born and raised in Sayville and a 2011 graduate of Sayville High, Sterback is one of six new crew members this season, in which the mega-yacht Valor tours the Far East under Captain Lee Rosbach. Sterback will be a deckhand — a sailor who cleans and maintains a ship's exteriors and engine room and such gear as Jet Skis, and assists with passenger service as needed. He has worked on charters since not long after graduating from SUNY Plattsburgh.
"I moved right out to California and I was staying with my grandma at the time. My older brother, Chris, was out there also. He's a bit of a free spirit, and during his travels he met people in the yachting industry and told me about it." While living in Healdsburg, California, in Sonoma County wine country, Tanner Sterback had toyed with being an actor or a model. But when his parents — former NYPD officer Jeff and former flight attendant Joni — retired to Pompano Beach, Florida, "I flew down there and took the classes and began a career in yachting" in 2016.
After taking a five-day course plus STCW Basic Safety Training at the yacht sales/service and training facility Bluewater USA in Fort Lauderdale, and got his certification and worked on two private yachts that sailed the Caribbean. On the latter, he worked for two years. On the former, he worked for only six months — since the boat got seized by the feds.
"That was fun,” Sterback says sardonically. "We were on it when it happened," he says of the crew. "A phone call went to the captain and we just stopped working and soon enough the boat started getting taped off and we had to move all our stuff off and get off the boat. Apparently it happens once a year" to various private vessels, "but I was like, 'Oh, mannnn.' I was so excited because out of the group of friends I made in the classes, I was the first one to get a permanent job. And then I was only on it for six months until [the boat] got seized."
The yacht-owner, he says, "was a bad dude. Really nice guy. But a bad dude."
Sterback — the youngest of four siblings, including older sisters Brynn and Megan — is closelipped about the upcoming season of "Below Deck," other than to say, when pressed, "I tend to party a little bit harder than most of the crew. You know, being raised out here and having Fire Island as your backyard, you know how to have a good time."
Since production wrapped, Sterback has spent the summer working at Fire Island restaurants. But ever-adventurous, he's got other plans. "In the winter I'm going down to Puerto Rico," he says, "and hopefully be down there for a couple months. I'm going to try to become a spearfishing instructor."