‘Below Deck’: Captain Lee Reveals He Was Broke Before He Got Into Yachting (Exclusive)

Below Deck fans know Captain Lee Rosbach as their steadfast leader on the soapy aquatic docudrama. He uses fast-thinking while keeping his cool under some pretty intense conditions.

But Rosbach recently revealed that his years before yachting weren’t always smooth sailing. He shared at a Stars Marketing Event in Florida that he was a little older than most crew members when he started in yachting. Plus, he said that he and wife Mary Anne were almost at their financial breaking point when he finally found his current career.

Captain Lee Rosbach
Captain Lee Rosbach | Ralph Bavaro/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Rosbach told the audience that he dove into yachting while he was working in the restaurant industry on the west coast of Florida. He said even though he was close to being completely broke, he did whatever he could to spend time on yachts to earn his certifications. That’s because he was so passionate about the industry. Rosbach also revealed that he was a lot older than most crew members who reach the pinnacle of captain.

Captain Lee was broke before he found yachting

Rosbach clarified to the audience that he didn’t see the ocean until he was 35 years old. “That’s when it all started,” he said. “Wife and I, Mary Anne. I wanted to move to the Turks and Caicos islands and saw the ocean for the first time.” Rosbach is originally from Saginaw, Michigan.

“And through a series of bad decisions, we ended up almost broke,” he recalled. “No, we were broke. Almost broke is like being almost pregnant,” he added with one of his typical Captain Lee-isms. But then he saw a small ad for a “mate wanted.”

The position paid $50 a day for the delivery of a sailboat. “I needed the money, they needed a mate, so I signed up for it,” he continues. “Mary Anne told me that if I took the job, because it was in the middle of hurricane season, that she wouldn’t be there when I got back. Well, being my usual self, it was like, well, you do what you gotta do and I’m going to do what I gotta do.”

Rosbach fell in love with the ocean

Thankfully the couple reunited after Rosbach’s maiden voyage. “That’s when I decided it was time to make a career change. Just fell in love with the ocean,” he said. But it wasn’t all love at first.

Rosbach shared he was extremely seasick during those early days. “I was so sick that whole trip, I was seasick,” he recounted. “Once you get out there and it happens, it’s like, OK, this is it.” Stew Kasey Cohen from Below Deck Mediterranean shared that Rosbach was very supportive when she was horribly seasick.

“Captain Lee said that he had gotten seasickness and the whole time he was on the bridge he had a bucket next to him,” Cohen told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in June. “He defended me, which was really nice.”

He became a captain later in life

Like Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean, Rosbach has a serious passion for yachting. “I was so passionate about it,” he recalled. “I would beg people to let me go on their boat. I worked for nothing.”

“I was managing restaurants and bars and on the west coast of Florida, and I go out after work for nothing and work on boats just to build enough time so I could get my captain’s license,” he said.

Rosbach said he was nearly 40 years old by the time he was able to become a captain. “Not exactly a youngster by career standards as far as this industry goes,” he added. “Most people start at a young age. You’ve got captains out there [ages] 24, 25.” But once Rosbach latched onto yachting, he never looked back. “So it’s an outstanding career choice. I mean, you get to see the world exotic locations.” Plus he shared that yachties make bank too.