When Captain Lee Rosbach was offered the chance to star in a new reality TV series about his passion for yachts, he didn’t think twice before accepting the tempting offer.
That was 2014 and since then, Bravo’s “Below Deck” has become a guilty pleasure for many viewers hoping to get a sneak peek of what’s it really like to work and live aboard a mega-yacht during charter season. However, some of the craziest encounters involving the rich and famous don’t always happen in front of cameras — and Rosbach, whose been ruling the luxury yachting industry for 25 years, is willing to tell all.
Fox News spoke with Rosbach about the strangest requests he’s received, as well as how he recently faced Hurricane Irma:
Fox News: You're based in Florida. How did you cope with Hurricane Irma?
Captain Lee Rosbach: It was a stressful situation. Right until the last minute, we thought we were going to get a direct hit. But at the very last second, she stayed a little bit west. And that really gave us a break. But unfortunately, something like that constitutes a breaks for us, but that means somebody else is not as fortunate. That’s the bad part about it. But we came through it pretty well.
We were without power for 5-6 days. Some people were without power for a couple of weeks. We just got power turned back on, so they suffered a lot more than I did… We made it.
Fox News: I know you can't give too much away, but what can audiences expect for the new season of ‘Below Deck’?
Rosbach: This season is really full of surprises. We have some new crew members coming on board and it always takes them a while to get used to each other. Different personalities and that sort of thing. There are some challenging moments, to say the least. Some that surprised even me.
Fox News: Looking back, what initially inspired you to be part of ‘Below Deck’?
Rosbach: It was born out of necessity! I was actually the captain on a boat the network had chartered for Season 1. And because of unusual circumstances, the captain they had hired wasn’t able to complete the show. So they asked me if I wanted to take a crack at it. I thought 'yeah!' Why would I want to leave something exciting like that on the table? That’s exactly how it happened. It was purely accidental.
Fox News: How much of the show is real?
Rosbach: All of it. I would like to say that somebody could make this stuff up, but that wouldn’t be true. The cameras start rolling in the morning and they don’t stop until the last person goes down for the night. And whatever happens, happens. And we get it on film.
Fox News: For those who aren’t familiar, what is it about luxury yachts that the rich and famous just can’t get enough of?
Rosbach: I guess if I had the answer to that, I would be one of the rich and famous. The rich and famous are a unique breed. When they get bit by the yachting bug, they’ll buy a boat and within a year or so, that boat will no longer be sufficient. They won’t buy a boat the same size or anything like that. It always has to be bigger.
And the next one will be bigger and the one after that will be bigger. And as evident it is in the industry today, private yachts are approaching 600 feet now, where 15 years ago, 20 years ago in the mid ‘80s when I started, a big yacht was 85 feet. They have this insatiable thirst that they cannot quench. And I, for one, am very grateful for it. It’s provided me with a very nice lifestyle.
Fox News: What are some of the craziest demands you’ve heard from your rich clientele?
Rosbach: We had a particular brand of suckling pig flown in from New Zealand for a New Year’s Eve dinner. And that was the only thing flown in, this pig. We had an owner who wanted eggplant for lunch and the particular area we were in didn’t have any. He had a pilot standing by because we couldn’t find eggplant. So he jetted off someplace to pick up a case.
Fox News: Which was your favorite request?
Rosbach: We had a couple one time who chartered a boat. All they wanted to do was relax, read and not have a plan. And that was my all-time favorite charter. There were four of us waiting on two of them, and they didn’t want anything. They just wanted coffee, a book and to sit on the deck. They were so low maintenance we were almost on the borderline of being bored.
Fox News: Which demand pissed you off?
Rosbach: New money. The new money charters just really piss me off to no end. They usually didn’t earn it. They inherited it or, like some of the dot com techies that just so happen to strike it rich. They’re overly demanding, under-appreciative and just really don’t have a concept of what it takes to be a real yachtsmen to do it with class, culture and dignity. They really stick in my craw.
Fox News: Are there any requests you’ll absolutely say no to?
Rosbach: If a client throws money at anything, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish for them. [But the answer is] drugs. I don’t care how much money they have. It doesn’t make any difference to me. But drugs are definitely off-limits.
Fox News: Who tends to party the most, the men or women?
Rosbach: If I have a group of men on board, they can’t hold a candle to the ladies. When it comes to partying, you get a group of ladies together and they know how to get the deal done. They’re just a blast and so much fun. Guys have a tendency to sit around, imbibe more than they should, not that the ladies don’t as well... It gets a little boring sometimes.
Fox News: Do you remember any of those parties where it was just women that stood out to you?
Rosbach: I could attribute that to almost any group of women that I had on board. None of them were ever boring. They love to laugh, giggle and have fun. They’ll make it a good time. Their requests are generally never over the top. They’re up for just about anything.
Fox News: Could you tell us a little bit more about those requests they tend to make?
Rosbach: We’ll have groups of girls where they’ll generally want one of the crew members to dance to what closely resembles a stripper pole. And with some of the crew we’ve had on board, let’s just say dancing is not their forte. Not a whole lotta rhythm going on there. But they were trying as hard as they could for some laughs.
Fox News: What advice would you give to anyone who’s going on a yacht for the first time?
Rosbach: Don’t try to do too much. Don’t try to pack a 14-day trip in seven days. You don’t have to see everything in the area that you’re cruising on that trip because you’ll end up at the end of your charter going back to work needing a vacation because you’re so worn out, you’re so exhausted.
And you only spent a little time in each place where you really didn’t get a chance to catch the flavor or the culture of the area you’re visiting. Don’t rush things. Don’t try to pack in too many activities. Just kick back, take it easy and enjoy the trip. Enjoy the journey.
"Below Deck" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.