Captain Lee, Below Deck
Credit: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

The Stud of the Sea is out. If you’ve been following his career for the past decade, you may be wondering why Captain Lee is leaving Below Deck and the real reason for his retirement after 10 seasons.

Below Deck is Bravo‘s reality TV series following the personal and professional lives of crew members who work and reside aboard a superyacht during charter season. Lee joined Below Deck as its original captain in season 1 in 2013. Since then, Below Deck has been spun off into four spinoffs — Below Deck Mediterranean, Below Deck Sailing Yacht, Below Deck Down Under and Below Deck Adventure — as well as made celebrities out of several cast members, including Lee, who’s earned the nickname the Stud of the Sea.

“I’m just a blue-collar guy who does his job. I just happened to get filmed while I’m doing it,” Lee told The Los Angeles Times in December 2022. “I don’t really do anything any different on my boat than I did 30 years ago. And if the camera doesn’t like it, well, that’s not my problem. But I guess people like it, because it’s still going after 10 years.”

But after 10 years on reality TV, could the Stud of the Sea be done? Read on for what we know about why Captain Lee is leaving from Below Deck and who is replacing him as the new captain after his retirement.

Captain Lee, Below Deck

Why is Captain Lee leaving Below Deck?

Why is Captain Lee leaving Below Deck? Captain Lee Rosbach hinted he was leaving Below Deck in the season 10 finale on March 20, 2023. “Going on 40 years, I’ve been a yacht captain,” he said in a confessional interview. “Have I seen a lot of crazy shit? Is a 40-pound rabbit fat? Yeah. Have I been in situations that I didn’t think I’d make it through? Oh, yeah. Deciding to become a yacht captain has been the best decision I ever made in my life.”

Lee also explained why he returned to Below Deck after he underwent back surgery earlier in the season and was replaced by Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean. “I made a promise that I would come back. That’s a promise that I’ve delivered,” he said. “I want people to look at the job that I’ve done and go, ‘He set the bar high and he kept it high. Goddamn, what a ride. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but the ocean’s always going to be a part of me. I still got the best goddamn show in the world.”

So why is Captain Lee leaving Below Deck? The answer is likely due to his current health issues. In season 10, episode 4 of Below Deck, Lee revealed that he had nerve damage due to an injury in his left leg, which affected his ability to walk forced him to leave the season early to undergo physical therapy. “My injury, it’s getting worse. The left side of my body, I don’t feel anything,” he said in a confessional interview. “I expected a lot more progress than I’m experiencing, and the most frustrating part about it is, I can’t do a goddamn thing about it, and it’s hard.”

He continued, “The pain’s getting worse, not better. I owe it to my crew to do right by them. They expect that out of me. There comes a point if a captain is really being objective; he should be putting the best interests of his crew first because that’s your primary responsibility.”

In an interview with People in December 2022, Lee — who returned to Below Deck in season 10, episode 15 — revealed that he still didn’t know the exact cause of his nerve issues. He explained that doctors told him that two previous surgeries he underwent before Below Deck season 10 — one on his back and one on his neck — both went “extremely well” and didn’t affect his nerves.

Lee also explained that he was able to regain his strength and return to Below Deck later in season as a result of physical therapy, which he attended as much as six times a week. “Gosh, the progress with nerves is really slow,” he said. “Nerves regenerate about four millimeters a month. And if I wanted to get back, I had to bust my hump and not pay attention to the nerve issue, but pay attention to getting the muscles stronger so that I could physically perform my duties. Because I had atrophy, where my muscles had weakened because of underuse. So that’s what I concentrated on; the muscles. The nerve, that’ll happen when it happens, and it’s going to be slow.” He continued, “If they were open, I was there,” he said.

Despite his progress, Lee told People that his recovery wasn’t overnight. “There were times when I would get discouraged,” he said. “I’m like everybody else, I guess. We’re so used to instant gratification. We want to see progress immediately. And with nerve damage, it just doesn’t happen that way. So I’d get frustrated. Other people would see a difference in my progress but it wouldn’t seem like anything to me because I wanted to see leaps and bounds instead of baby steps. But we got there.”

Lee also credited his wife, Mary Anne, and Below Deck fans for their “tremendous support” in his recovery. “The outpouring of sympathy was just overwhelming,” he said.  “I thought I died!” He continued, “I don’t consider myself a celebrity or a reality TV star. I’m just a captain that does this job, happens to get filmed while I’m doing it. And then when something like that happens and you see the reaction to the fans, you realize the responsibility you have and how many people’s lives you actually touch in a great way. So it’s humbling to say the least.” He added, “But I’m still here. It’s going to take more than that to stop me.”

Lee also told Us Weekly at the time about how his back surgery turned out. “Back surgery came out great, it really did,” he said. “You will find this season that I do something that I’ve never, ever done before in my career or in my life. And there’s gonna be a lot of situations where you’re gonna go like, ‘Wow, didn’t see that coming at all.’ And not only will it be true for the viewers, [but] it was also true for myself and the crew.”

Captain Kerry, Below Deck

Who is the new Below Deck captain after Captain Lee?

Who is the new Below Deck captain after Captain Lee? Us Weekly confirmed in February 2023, Captain Kerry Titheradge — the captain on Below Deck Adventure season 1 — will replace Captain Lee as the new captain of Below Deck for season 11, which started filming in February 2023.

In an interview with Us Weekly in February 2023, Kerry revealed the advice Lee gave him before the first season of Below Deck Adventure premiered in November 2022. “‘Be yourself. Be that same guy I was playing golf with,’” Kerry said referring to advice Lee gave him. “And then I asked him about social media and how to do that. I said, ‘I heard I should get someone to do it, so I don’t get caught up in it.’ He goes, ‘No, do your own social media. Don’t let anyone do that.’”

He continued, “The show hadn’t been out yet, but we got a chat and he’s like, ‘Man, you’re gonna do great. You’re gonna do really good. I can see it.’ He says, ‘You’re gonna do fantastic in this franchise.’ And then he chatted with my daughter. It was cool.”

Below Deck is available to stream on Peacock.

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