“I did not quit. I did not retire. I was just not invited back,” the captain, 73, told South Florida’s Sun Sentinel earlier this month. “I guess I can see their point of view. They really couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone on how my health was.”
The Michigan native noted that his doctors can’t diagnose his current ailment beyond “a nerve issue.”
Below Deck viewers originally saw Lee leave during season 10 to address his ongoing health issues. “My injury, it’s getting worse. The left side of my body, I don’t feel anything,” he explained in a December 2022 episode. “I expected a lot more progress than I’m experiencing, and the most frustrating part about it is, I can’t do a god goddamn thing about it, and it’s hard.”
That same month, the reality star opened up about the progress he made with his health, exclusively telling Us Weekly, “Back surgery came out great, it really did. 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.”
Us later broke the news that Lee would be leaving the franchise after season 10. The Bravo star will be replaced by Below Deck Adventure‘s Captain Kerry for season 11 as new episodes currently film in Grenada.
Lee, for his part, initially remained tight-lipped about the shakeup. The OG Below Deck star reflected on his legacy during the season 10 finale, which aired last month.
“Deciding to become a yacht captain has been the best decision I ever made in my life. I made a promise that I would come back and that is a promise I delivered. I want people to look at the job that I have done and go, ‘He set the bar high, and he kept it high,'” he said. “Goddamn, what a ride. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, but the ocean is always going to be a part of me.”
While addressing his departure, Lee said he wasn’t ruling out a potential return.
“[Bravo and I] came to an agreement, and I’m going to be doing some things for them in the next year. Then, Season 12? I imagine they are going to see what happens with Season 11, with somebody new trying to take over for me, see how they do,” he added on April 6. “If it’s too expensive for them, we’ll see what happens. If the numbers take a tank, would I go back? Yeah.”