BELOW DECK Captain Lee has spinal surgery, responds to the Heather N-word controversy

Below Deck Captain Lee Rosbach

Below Deck‘s Captain Lee Rosbach was late to the boat on the current season due to having a medical procedure to treat his atrial fibrillation condition. Bravo’s salty “Stud of the Sea” revealed this week that he was recently back in the hospital for another serious procedure — spinal surgery!

Captain Lee made the reveal while tweeting about this week’s episode. Unfortunately, the reveal was in response to some negativity surrounding some of the race issues featured on the current season.

The conversation began last week after deckhands Rayna and Wes talked on screen about their different experiences growing up black in America. “Any love for the two black crew members sharing their experiences tonight?” Twitter user @Nickibeautiful asked on December 7.
“Check out my blog,” Captain Lee responded.

@Nickibeautiful waited a little more than a week to offer up her reply. By that time another episode aired in which Chief Stew Heather Chase appears to repeat deckhand Rayna saying the N-word. “I did,” @Nickibeautiful tweeted in regards to reading the Captain’s blog. “It’s just that here you address nonsense but won’t address maybe what makes you uncomfortable. Here we are a week later with your chief stew Heather repeatedly saying the N word and your first officer Eddie telling Rayna not to take it personally. Shall I check your blog?”

As you might imagine, the snarkiness riled Captain Lee up a bit. “Nicki, you should know all the facts before you spout off, but I guess facts don’t mean that much to you, and what’s worse is claiming you know when you don’t,” he tweeted. “Just a FYI I have been in a hospital bed all week recovering from a serious spinal surgery. Do I owe you an explanation?”

“This response is everything I thought it would be,” @Nickibeautiful replied. “You had time to tweet about Jake and Heather’s sex lives, your sunglasses and the slide. Not Heather’s racial slurs. Got it. You owe me nothing. I wish you a speedy recovery. #BelowDeck #bravotv”

Captain Lee gave her one more reply before moving on. “Again Nicki, you don’t have the facts, I wrote that blog before the episode aired,” he explained. “When it’s posted is not always when it was written. Last reply to you Niki, you know nothing about me but think you know everything. Buh bye.”

Another Twitter user asked Captain Lee about what his surgery was for, and he replied that it was to address severe spinal stenosis. Here’s a bit about spinal stenosis from The Mayo Clinic:

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.

Some people with spinal stenosis may not have symptoms. Others may experience pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Symptoms can worsen over time.

Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, doctors may recommend surgery to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves.

When asked how his recovery from the surgery is going, Captain Lee said he’s “doing OK” before elaborating just a bit. “Doc say operation went really well. I’m a bit dopy from meds. But this will pass.”

Below Deck Med‘s Captain Sandy Yawn shared a get well soon message for Captain Lee, and he responded with gratitude:

Below Deck N-Word Controversy

Getting back to the N-word controversy, Captain Lee addressed that in his new Captain’s Log posted earlier today:

My, my! This has certainly devolved into something I didn’t see coming this season, but like I always do with the elephant in the room, lets take this head on. I was truly disgusted by some words used in this week’s episode that I will not repeat; I find them despicable. The word I heard used casually on this week’s episode is not one I tolerate in any way shape or form on my boat. Nor will I ever, moving forward. I wish I knew about it earlier and swift action would have been taken, but let me be very clear, it isn’t acceptable, ever.

Captain Lee Continues Charity Work, Building Rehab Barge

Despite all of the medical issues, constantly having items blown off his boat, and having to deal with controversial topics on Twitter, Captain Lee still manages to find time to do more than his part to make the world a better place.

The Captain has a long history helping raise funds for the Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale. This year, Captain Lee put his signature beard to work as Ol’ Saint Nick and gave his bad spine a workout handing out gifts and food.

“As the season of giving is upon us, my bride and I were able to act as Santa and Mrs. Clause to give back to those in need,” Captain Lee captioned an Instagram gallery last week. “We partnered with the incredible staff at @amazon4star and @childrensdiagnostic to pull off a holiday surprise. From packaging 1300 thanksgiving dinners to hand picking Christmas presents and delivering them. It is so important to give back throughout the year and we can guarantee it’ll be a Christmas they won’t forget.”

Here’s the gallery:

In addition to his work with CDTC, Captain Lee recently announced that he also plans to open a new addiction rehabilitation center at sea called Healing Waters. The facility will be housed on a 470-foot barge that can house up to 200 patients.

“We’re also converting it into a vocational rehabilitation center so that not only do we try to get them clean, but we try to get them back into the mainstream of the community with an ability to make a living,” Captain Lee said on Watch What Happens Live. “Usually when they get out…they’ve burned all of their bridges when it comes to employment because of drug use, and they have nothing to fall back on. So, you can’t really just kick them back out into society and say ‘Hey, you’re on your own.'”

“We want to give them something viable that they can count on, and they can go out there are be productive members,” he added.

More info from Screen Rant:

The goal is to have patients working on reef and waterway clean-ups so they can develop life skills. There will also be 10 or 12 vocations that each patient can choose from. As far as operating the ship, the Bravo personality shared that he will have another captain on board.

Captain Lee was motivated to make the Healing Waters project a reality after he lost his son to opioid addiction.
Joshua Lee Rosbach passed away in July of 2019 at the age of 42. “After a twenty year struggle, he finally succumbed to the demons he fought so long and so hard,” Captain Lee and his wife, Mary Anne, said in a statement after Joshua died.

Here’s the concluding paragraph from the couple’s statement, which could be a mission statement for Healing Waters:

So my message to those of you who are fighting this disease, find a way to get help no matter what. For those of you who have a friend, family member, son, or daughter who’s struggling, do what ever it takes to get them the help they need. Be kind and loving, and try to enjoy every second you have with them. Do not pray for our son, but please take care of your children and friends who may need it, as it isn’t too late for them.

We sincerely wish Captain Lee a speedy recovery from his spinal surgery. The world’s a much better place when he’s not laid up!

Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm. You can contact Asa via Twitter, Facebook, or email at starcasmtips(at)

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