Below Deck is setting sail on season 4 and, as expected, a new storm of drama is hovering over the high seas.
To kick off the new charter, PEOPLE caught up with the man who keeps the boat afloat with his cunning one-liners (okay, and masterful commanding too): Captain Lee Rosbach.
“The best way for me to put it would be: I don’t surprise easily, and this season surprised me – in a good way,” Captain Lee says of the new season. “There are some things that definitely get my attention. I’m a pretty easy read, I kind of wear everything out on my sleeve, so you can tell by my expressions when I’m caught off guard or caught by surprise.”
In fact, an exclusive sneak peek at the first episode show that the Captain is telling no tall tales. Just a day after beginning the charter, there are already tensions between the deckhands, lead by newly appointed bosun (and returning cast member) Kelley Johnson – and let’s just say Captain Lee is not amused.
The last time Johnson worked with Captain Lee was in season 2 as a deckhand when he let his immaturity get the best of him at times. But Captain Lee says he’s all about second chances. “A lot can happen in a lot of years and Kelley had a maturation process to go through, and I think that when everybody gets done viewing this season they’ll see whether that transpired or it didn’t.”
In addition to Johnson, the new season brings back a few past crew members including chef Ben Robinson (whom Captain Lee describes as “just hilarious”) and Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain with her “dry, cunning, quick wit,” as the captain puts it.
But the rest of the crew are all new with working with one another. “It’s always difficult to get to know new crew because when you initially first meet new crew members it’s kind of like looking at a résumé; everyone puts their best points down,” explains the Captain. “And when you meet someone for the first time they put their best foot forward, but after the newness wears off and you’re with them a few days, things don’t always go as planned. You kind of get a feel for what their real personality is like and how much of it was real and how much of it was bulls—.”
And apparently deceptive résumés are more common than you think. “In seasons past it happened a few times. You think you know someone, and all of a sudden this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde metamorphosis takes place and you go, ‘Whoa, that person’s got a problem.’ And sometimes it resolves in them getting terminated, like in the case of Andrew [in season 2], where he just really embellished his résumé.”
But in the end, he prefers the combination of old and new crew members. “I like when there’s a mix. I really enjoy the challenges it provides and sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air where you get new blood so to speak and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t so you just kind of take it as it comes.”
So has he ever worked with any ghosts from seasons past since their departure from Bravo? He says Leon Walker from season 3 has “totally gone dark. I haven’t seen or heard from Leon since he left the boat that day.”
Bosun Eddie Lucas is still in the industry but not returning for a new season. “I stay in touch with him on occasion. We chat back and forth because we’re both in the industry. And he’s still doing his commercial thing up in the frozen tundra. He’s still doing the tugboats.”
What about maybe the most problematic member from last season, Rocky Dakota? “I haven’t had that pleasure. Let’s say she hasn’t been over to the house to cook dinner. I’m not a huge fan of grenadine on my oysters.”
Captain Lee has seen a lot in four seasons of shooting the show, but he says it doesn’t affect his work in the slightest. “It doesn’t really change how I operate a boat. The show hasn’t. There’s more people to deal with, obviously, with the sound techs and the camera operators and that sort of thing but it doesn’t change how I deal with the individuals who work with us and the crew. And it doesn’t change how I treat the guests. It really doesn’t change anything as far as my method of running the boat. There’s nothing that I do specifically for TV. I’m just a captain doing my job and I just happen to be getting filmed at it.
But overall he’s having fun it and his "Stud of the Sea" persona.
“My family gets a lot of mileage out of that stuff. They think it’s quite hilarious and the network did a great job with it [the commercial]. I think it’s great. I’m having fun with it. It doesn’t really change the way that I operate though, as evidence when you see me on TV with some of the things that I say. You can tell that it really doesn’t make much difference if there are cameras there or not.”
Below Deck season 4 premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.