“I had no idea. But he’s not well. So I think if I was in my 70s and I struggled physically, I’m gonna be laying on a beach enjoying [myself]. I’m not gonna be worried about doing a TV show,” the Below Deck Mediterranean star, 55, exclusively told Us on Monday, June 26, while promoting her partnership with Chips Ahoy!
Sandy, who joined the Bravo franchise in 2017, revealed she hasn’t been in touch with Lee, 73, since news broke about his exit. “I don’t know how it happened because I haven’t spoken to him,” she noted.
Us originally broke the news in February that Lee would be replaced by Below Deck Adventure‘s Captain Kerry for season 11 as new episodes filmed in Grenada. The OG Below Deck star later revealed he was just as surprised by the shakeup.
“That came right out of left field. I did not see that one coming at all,” he exclusively told Us in May. “If they found that they needed me back on the show, I’d go back. I’ve done it for 10 years and I would kind of like to — if I’m going to make an exit — do it on different terms.”
Lee said he didn’t get an exact reason for the decision from Bravo. “‘We would like to move in a new direction,'” he recalled being told about his offscreen exit. “But I mean, that’s kind of a cliche that everybody uses when they find themselves in that situation where they’re going to let somebody go. ‘I’m going to move in a new direction. We want to freshen it up a little.’ [They are] tired cliches that get overused.”
Ahead of his exit, Sandy temporarily replaced Lee during season 10 of Below Deck while he addressed his health issues. As new episodes of the show aired earlier this year, the Michigan native surprised viewers when he questioned Sandy’s leadership.
Sandy, for her part, thought that their different perspectives on a situation were later blown out of proportion. (Lee claimed his coworker didn’t tell him about stew Camille Lamb‘s firing. In response, Sandy pointed out that she was in charge while Lee was dealing with his health.)
“I just can’t believe there was a thing about it. The reality is when you’re on a boat and someone’s sick in the hospital, as a captain you’re not gonna call them up and say, ‘Can I fire someone?’ You don’t need permission. You’re actually in command,” she told Us on Monday. “So I did call after and said, ‘Here’s what’s happened.’ You always wanna have that respect. But yeah, I agree with him. I think people took it to the next level.”
After season 10 finished airing, Sandy attempted to make contact with Lee. “I did reach out to him a few times. He just had to call me back,” she shared. “If I see him, it wouldn’t be a conversation because he understands. If he was in my shoes, he would’ve done the same thing.”
Sandy added: “You show up for captains. When one of my parents died, I had a friend and I needed to deliver our boat. He stepped in for me while I went to my mom’s funeral. We step in for each other. That’s what captains do. We have each other’s back.”
The TV personality has since shifted her focus to filming season 8 of Below Deck Med — and worked with Chips Ahoy! in honor of their 60th anniversary. In order to commemorate the occasion, the brand announced Chips Ahoy! Happiest Birthday Party, which offered two lucky fans the chance to win a one-of-a-kind birthday party on a private yacht.
“Chips Ahoy! has been a part of my entire life. It’s a staple item in my house. It’s a perfect match. And to be a part of their 60th birthday party and their fan engagement and experience is honestly a perfect fit,” Sandy said about the sweepstakes. “[I also got to] go on their boat, it’s actually wrapped in chips of holy cookies. It’s wrapped. It’s a really cool experience and I’m excited.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi