The news of Lee’s exit comes just a few months after Captain Sandy Yawn stepped in to replace the Michigan native during Below Deck season 10.
“Capt Sandy came in an[d] bailed me out in a tough situation and I appreciate her efforts,” Lee, who has starred on Below Deck since its debut in 2011, tweeted about his premature farewell at the time.
During the December 2022 episode, viewers watched as Lee said goodbye to his crew before heading back to the U.S. to deal with ongoing health issues.
“I’m gonna go back to the [United] States, get this straightened out — and as soon as I do — I’ll be on the first plane back here and tell whoever’s on board to get the f—k off my boat,” he quipped to his costars as he broke the news.
While the captain noted that he planned to return to the charter to finish out the season — and referred to his plane ticket as “roundtrip” — he told his fellow castmembers that he wanted “do right” by them by stepping aside.
“As you guys know I’ve been struggling with my mobility, and it’s been hard and I’ve let you guys down and for that, I apologize. So I’ve made a decision to leave the boat,” he explained. “One of my biggest problems now is I’m not able to observe. I don’t know who’s doing what, it’s my job,” he added. “They expect that out of me. There comes a point if a captain is really being objective, he should be putting the best interests of his crew first.”
Ahead of his departure from St. David, Lee exclusively told Us that his health issues were improving.
“Back surgery came out great, it really did,” he exclusively told Us in December 2022. “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.”
The reasons for Lee’s official exit have yet to be shared, but the seasoned vet would likely give Kerry his stamp of approval.
While the Australia native — who has starred on Below Deck Adventure since it premiered in November 2022 — is a Bravo newbie, he exclusively opened up to Us last month about the advice Captain Lee gave him while the two paired up for a round of golf.
“‘Be yourself. Be that same guy I was playing golf with,’” Kerry recalled Lee telling him. “And then I asked him about social media and how to do that. I said, ‘I heard I should get someone to do it, so I don’t get caught up in it.’ He goes, ‘No, do your own social media. Don’t let anyone do that.’”
Kerry also revealed that he then ran into Lee once again at BravoCon in October 2022, where the former restaurateur gave him words of encouragement ahead of the Adventure premiere.
“The show hadn’t been out yet, but we got a chat and he’s like, ‘Man, you’re gonna do great. You’re gonna do really good. I can see it.’ He says, ‘You’re gonna do fantastic in this franchise.’ And then he chatted with my daughter. It was cool.”
Season 10 of Below Deck is currently airing on Bravo Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.