Below Deck Reunion Ashton Pienaar

Former Below Deck Bosun Ashton Pienaar Is One Year Sober

Many Below Deck alums disappear into post-reality TV obscurity.  Ashton Pienaar could have been remembered as the deckhand who entertained his castmates with outrageous Smashton moments and narrowly escaped death when his foot got tangled in a tow line and he was dragged overboard.

Unfortunately, Ashton returned for season 7 as a newly appointed bosun.  His zeal for the job was quickly dampened by lack of management skills and being triggered by Chief Stew Kate Chastain.  Smashton became downright scary and threatening towards Kate and deck hand Rhylee GerberHe had quite a bit of damage control to do at the reunion, and revealed that he had started counseling to deal with issues he identified after watching himself on screen.

Now, just under a year after the disastrous reunion aired, Ashton made a public announcement about his self-improvement journey.

Earlier this week, Ashton posted, “I YEAR SOBER TODAY!” to his Instagram, paired with a shirtless photo of himself.

“Sometimes, in life, situations happen that make you take a step back and assess everything,” Ashton wrote.


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He saw a negative decline in himself during his two seasons on the show.

“Roughly 2 years ago I made the decision to appear on season 6 of Below Deck,”Ashton wrote. He said it was “an easy decision for me to make as I was 100% confident in the person I was. In fact, I was proud of the person I had worked to become. Nearly losing my life being dragged behind a yacht would have probably been the most impactful moment of my life. The reality though, was that it would have nothing on the moment I sat and realized that I was no longer proud of the person I had become.”


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“Season 7 of Below Deck was the worst experience of my life,” Ashton continued. He recalled, “witnessing the way I behaved through rewatching myself on TV left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, broken and lost.”

The antics of his alter ego Smashton, was masking deep-seated issues.   Ashton explained that, “truth is, I had it in me to be the life of the party BUT, I also had the ability to become an aggressive, arrogant and naive little boy. The ironic part is that both versions stemmed from the same issues.  Getting totally wasted and care-free was a coping mechanism for issues I wasn’t dealing with. Aggressive outbursts from emotional baggage I wasn’t addressing. Treating people as if they were all there to serve me in some way.”


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Ashton continued on to acknowledge the toll the being on reality TV took on his loved ones.  “Being stripped bare of my ego and everything I thought I was in front of the world is one thing.” He continued, “being stripped of all that and more in front of my friends and family was nearly unbearable,” he said.

“1 year ago today, I decided that I will be better, that I will do better,” Ashton said. He decided, “that I will become a brother to look up to and a son to be proud of.”

A healthy lifestyle has certainly played a part in the process as Ashton’s Instagram is filled with workout posts and dieting tips.




Not only did Ashton find inspiration from his family, but also in a renewed sense of self-worth.  “I have gone deeper into my being then I knew existed, to rebuild myself. I have faced my fears, accepted hard truths and relived traumatic experiences. A journey, most certainly not a destination. One that I am excited to keep progressing through and what I thought was the worst experience of my life, has without a doubt become the best.”

This is a time when resolutions and lifestyle changes are made. In addition,  Ashton revealed what he hopes to accomplish in 2021.

He concluded, “this year I will go deeper, love harder, live more adventurously, share unconditionally, listen more intently, [and] think with more compassion.” Similarly, he promised to “act… as if the world is watching.”




[Photo Credit: Bravo]