“Everyone wants to be captain until it’s time to do captain sh-t.”
These are the words uttered by Captain Lee Rosbach on Below Deck. And if we’ve learned one thing over the last decade, it’s the “Stud of the Sea” is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and do captain sh-t. To mark season 10 of the show that launched a fleet of spinoffs, Rosbach heads up St. David. The largest motor yacht in the show’s history, which will bring its own set of challenges for the charters in Saint Lucia.
His crew this time around includes familiar faces, chef Rachel Hargrove and Fraser Olender, who was promoted to chief stew. They’ll be joined by new bosun Ross McHarg, stews Hayley De Sola Pinto and Alissa Humber, and deckhands Tony Duarte, Katie Glaser, and Ben Willoughby. Rounding out the group is Camille Lamb, who will split her duties as a deck/stew.
Here Rosbach teases what’s to come and sets the record straight on if season 10 is his last voyage.
Do you remember the first time you felt Below Deck was a hit?
Captain Lee Rosbach: I don’t think it was until season 3 that it really sunk in and people were starting to recognize you just walking down the street or a restaurant. By season 4 or 5 you realize your anonymity is gone, and you’re never going to get it back. Not that it’s a bad thing. Nobody gives you a playbook as they do in the NFL because everything is unscripted. Cameras start rolling at 6:30 a.m., and they don’t stop for six weeks.
Was there a place you were recognized that surprised you?
Thailand, walking down the street. Thailand is such an exotic place that is a cornucopia of light and sound with music and culture everywhere. Then out of nowhere in the back someone yells, “Captain Lee!” I think, “Jesus!! I’m in Patong Beach and somebody recognizes me here.” It turned out this was a guy from Jersey running a club there getting to open for the evening. We sat and chatted for about 15 minutes. That surprised me. I thought for sure I’d be safe in Thailand.
What was it like having all the captains together at BravoCon? Do you have a favorite spin-off?
Now you’re asking me to play favorites. You know that I’m not going to do that. It was a good effort. It is really flattering to see all the spin-offs that have come from the original. It was incredible to have all five of us together was incredible at BravoCon. I don’t think the fans were totally ready for it when we popped up on stage for Watch What Happens Live. To have everyone together, was a tremendous feeling because it all started with one dream and one season where nobody really knew what we were doing because nobody had filmed on a boat before. The amount of work that goes into it. Having it be such a success was really rewarding.
Captain Sandy Yawn broke ground as the first female captain in the Below Deck franchise. This season you break ground with Fraser as the first male stew. How does that feel?
It is a milestone. I’m a firm believer in meritocracy. You get your job based on merit. You keep your job based on merit. You will lose your job for lack of merit. I don’t care if you’re male or female or what color you are. It makes no difference to me. Are you the best candidate for the job? Fraser did such an outstanding job in my opinion that I stopped calling him Fraser and referred to him as Mr. Olender because I think he has earned that. Yes, it is a milestone because of what Captain Sandy and some other captains have done on the female side in breaking through barriers Mr. Olender has done it on the other side of the coin. He has broken in and succeeded in a female-dominated job category. He should be extremely proud of himself.
This vessel is immense in that it has an extra deck. In the first episode chef Rachel feels those challenges early on. How was it managing the size of St. David?
It’s big for everybody. It’s so big we added another crew member because you can’t run a 200-ft boat with the crew we had previously. Yes, 15 feet doesn’t feel like much until you start walking it every day The dining room is three stories up and there is not an elevator, your glutes are going to be pretty good by the end of the season. It was a breakthrough for everyone I think. The bigger they get logistically speaking creates some issues I think our staff dealt with quite well this year. Were there speedbumps? You’ll see.
Camile looks to be at the center of some drama, at least early on. What was the dynamic like having a deck/stew?
You have to have the right person to take on both roles and have the right person who can handle two separate personalities and two bosses. The department heads controlling this one individual can’t be seen as fighting over her or him. We have to work out something between everyone. When I need Camille when we’re docking and coming off the dock. Then it’s up to the bosun when he needs her and then communicate that to the interior. Those two dichotomies have to work together..it does present a whole host of issues. It takes special people to deal with it all.
What are your overall thoughts on the crew this season?
It’s comical because when the cameras start rolling on day one when the crew comes aboard everybody is on their best behavior. It’s what I call the honeymoon period. Even at 200 ft., that boat gets small really quickly with that many crew. Depending on how many A-type personalities are on board, but t doesn’t seem we have any lack of that on our boats. This is a great season. There are going to be a lot of wow moments where people are going to be like, “I didn’t see that coming.” And, “Did the captain really do that?”
What can you say about the charter guests?
This season we had a good group of charter guests. I believe I didn’t have to toss anyone off for bad behavior. There may have been some things I frowned on. Everybody knows I wear it on my sleeve how I’m feeling. Make no mistake about that. There were some interesting moments, to say the least. We had an all-girls charter that totally surprised me. It’s rare I get caught off guard or someone does something that I didn’t expect. It happened this year
Does anyone have to leave the boat or get fired?
Scott, you know I can’t tell you that. Good try.
You’ve spent more than 37 years in the business. You come into this charter season after a surgery for nerve issue on your left side. What was your mindset for season 10? The teaser had a lot of people thinking that you’re thinking of retirement.
My mindset has always been that I can get it done no matter what. Give me the challenge, and I’ll get it done. I’ve been that way my whole life. For me, if I had to take a job I didn’t like, I didn’t stay there long at all. I’ve always said that when it comes time for me to walk away it will come down to it not being fun or you guys not liking me or the show. Other than that, I have every intention of being there. I don’t have any plans of retiring. I think retirement is overrated.
Below Deck season 10 premiere, November 21, 8/7c, Bravo