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Q&A About SEIZED!

Below are some commonly asked questions about Max and SEIZED.  If you'd like to ask Max a question, please click here to submit it.

Q. How do you get ships out of bad places?

A. I do whatever it takes to free a ship. It really depends on the situation. Sometimes I hire a tugboat and pull it out under the cover of night. Other times, if there’s no crew onboard, I bring in a small crew to board the ship and sail it out. Or, if the crew is being held against their will, I’ve been known to sneak on board, convince them to join me and we sail it out together. Or if the crew is uncooperative, I try to trick them off the ship.

Q. What are the consequences if you get caught?

A. Well, the stakes are high. If you sail a ship out of port without a clearance, the ship could be forfeited to the government and the crew could go to prison. And prison in the countries we are talking about isn’t pleasant. The prison doesn’t feed you, there’s no medical attention, and sanitary conditions are usually appalling. Some Colombian and Venezuelan prisons make Midnight Express look like the county lock-up. That’s why we only extract ships as a last resort.

Q. Why do you do it?

A. My clients often have nowhere else to turn. I’ve had clients who were single-ship owners, and if they lost their ship, their would lose their entire livelihood. A lot of times, an owner’s entire savings are invested in his ship, and many times the ship’s insurance won’t pay. Also, the crew are often innocent victims—at best, they could be stuck there without pay for months. I’ve seen situations where the crewmen died of neglect. So I guess I do it to keep the bad guys from winning. And of course I get paid to do it. 

Q.  Tell us about SEIZED

A. SEIZED is based on my adventures repossessing ships and sneaking them out of outlaw ports, sometimes with hostile crews onboard and under the guns of the navy or coast guard. The book starts with my extraction of the M/V Naruda from an illegitimate seizure in Haiti and ends with my repossession of the M/V Maya Express from Haiti during the worst days of the 2004 revolution. Two themes of the work are the lawless world of ocean shipping and my refusal to let these modern pirates steal my clients’ ships.

Q. What are some of the exotic locations featured in SEIZED?

A. The adventures that I recount in SEIZED take place all over the world—from lawless ports in the Caribbean to the once-forbidden city of Vladivostok, Russia. Also, East Germany right before reunification and the medieval city of Brugge, Belgium. But the book is mainly set in exotic Caribbean locations, such as Haiti, Venezuela, Trinidad and Mexico.

Q. What are some of the characters like in SEIZED?

A. I’ve encountered a veritable rogue’s gallery of characters in my adventures, including Haitian rebels, modern-day Caribbean pirates and Russian mobsters. Other characters include the men who helped me, my friends and associates, brave, responsible, dedicated men like Ramesh Chawla, my stalwart chief mate; Otto Volmer, my alcoholic chief engineer who could get a main engine started under the worst circumstances, drunk or sober; and Capt. Barry Butler, a close friend whose industry knowledge and contacts have been invaluable. Colorful scoundrels and victims alike are featured in the book.


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