In February 2023, word came that Bravo had told Captain Lee of “Below Deck” that his contract hadn’t been renewed. Instead, Captain Kerry from “Below Deck Adventure” would take over the franchise show that made all others possible. So why?
Let’s look at one other remarkable departure. Last year, Eddie Lucas got into an altercation that led to accusations that racial issues had existed and Eddie didn’t do enough to listen to the problems in his job. He told “New York Post” that he wasn’t invited back for another season. Also in the “New York Post” article, Eddie stated that he had some issues about the salaries of the cast on other popular Bravo shows. It seems that the “Below Deck” crew made much less than the casts of such shows as the “Real Housewives …”. (“Whatever Happened to Eddie Lucas?”) I won’t go into specifics but if what he said was true, I think Bravo has a pay scale and Eddie had reached it.
Captain Lee has the longest record with the “Below Deck” series. His time as Captain has now ended as his contract will not be renewed (“Captain Lee Not Returning for Season 11 of Below Deck.” Affectionately called the “Stud of the Sea,” this 73-year-old could do everything up until the 2023 series when health issues caused him to stay close to the wheelhouse. Yes, he had health issues in the tenth season, but could it be due to other reasons.
In recent weeks, he has called out Captain Sandy for firing one of his crew without notifying him first. Sure, Sandy called him after the fact, but she was only a temporary captain. Much discussion happened on Twitter, the worst place possible, and the sides were drawn. I’m not sure what the proper etiquette is for firing on yachts, but I know that in many cases the supervisor has the final say. So, who was the supervisor? Lee hired the one fired (Camille) and should have had input. While many supported Sandy due to the fact that she was captain, this appointment was only temporary. Personally, I agree with Lee. He should have been told before it happened. The hospital excuse doesn’t work when Sandy used it because she called him there afterwards.
The managerial style also has come into focus. Captain Lee is laid back and watches what happens from the deck. He leaves it to his department heads to come to him. If they don’t, he steps in with a firm hand. This is not how Sandy handles it as I have mentioned it before in another opinion piece. I have noticed on her own show, “Below Deck Mediterranean,” that Sandy seems much more lax with the deck hands than with interior crew. She also has people who she knows will gossip with her. This trend seems to have followed over to Captain Lee’s yacht. She really didn’t know the interior staff and she has always found fault with them. Captain Lee was giving Frazier assistance to “learn the ropes.” Captain Sandy expected a first-time stew to know what to do and only offered guidance with “changes can be made” as her mantra. I took that to mean Frazier was toast if he didn’t do what she wanted.
I am not disparaging Captain Sandy. She has her style but she also needs to respect that this was Captain Lee’s yacht and she’s filling in temporarily. This then leads to the question: Was this an audition of Captain Sandy to become the captain of the flag ship show. If so, why didn’t she get the nod? Why did it go to Captain Kerry who has his own ship and a season in the books.
I like Captain Kerry from “Below Deck Adventure.” He grew on me as the season progressed. It was his crew I didn’t like. I can respect him and am more than willing to give him a chance in his new duties. I think he can adjust to the Caribbean and wish him nothing but luck. He’s going to have to prove himself to many old fans of Captain Lee.
And another key departure appears to have happened. I read yesterday that Chef Rachel is leaving for other opportunities. In an article appearing in US magazine, she states that she’s finished with the Bravo network (in her usual style with cussing no less). (“Rachel Hargrove Reveals Whether She Will Attend the “Below Deck” Reunion). This, on top of Captain Lee, will hurt the “Below Deck” flagship.
I hope “Below Deck” fans can adjust to the new captain and chef. I know I will miss Captain Lee but changes have to happen. Rachel brought the common sense opinion. Bravo wants to make an impact and I honestly hope they made the right decision. If it’s because of his age, Bravo could be held accountable for age discrimination. I felt the ouster of Eddie and others were wrong. I have also noticed that the crews are getting a little chummier with sex during the cruises. So, please, Bravo, cut down on the sex. Remember, you aren’t “Big Brother” or others that play on the young having fun without considering the consequences! After all, romance is one thing but sometimes the crew carries it too far!