The outcome of the red-dyed fuel issue

Jun 1, 2012 by Lucy Chabot Reed

Remember those yachts that were fined last summer in Kiel, Germany, for having red-dyed fuel in their tanks? I caught up with one of them recently and found out the outcome. 
To recap: This captain, who asked that he and the yacht remain anonymous, had filled up with fuel in the United States before heading to Europe. Marine fuel sold in the U.S. is dyed red. 
Despite taking on numerous liters of clear, duty-paid fuel after leaving the U.S., some of the U.S. fuel remained to taint subsequent tanks. 
In Germany, red dye is used for commercial vessels. And because his yacht is private, German customs officials balked.
This captain -- a veteran in command of a vessel in excess of 200 feet -- hosted customs officers onboard for 15 hours before being fined 80,000 euros and being charged with fraud.
Now it was time for he and the owner to balk. They sued.
The good news is that German customs returned every bit of the 80,000 euros in fines it collected. The bad news, it cost $20,000 in attorneys fees to get it. 
“My blood boils every time I think about it,” the captain said. “I’m still angry my boss didn’t let me counter-sue them.”
This captain did everything right. He keeps samples of each delivery of fuel. He makes sure the oil record book is up to date and includes dates, times, locations and volumes. All receipts are in order and legible.
Even though it didn’t help avoid the fine, the meticulous record keeping helped in a court of law. 
His latest advice to anyone traveling to the Baltic this summer: consult your ship’s agent to make sure you know the current laws regarding fuel before you arrive. Find out what declarations you need and make sure you have them.
Do everything right and still get fined? Makes my blood boil, too. 
Remember that captain who pushes his body to physical extremes for fun? Capt. Grant Maughan of M/Y Turmoil started running marathons last fall (26.2 miles) and by spring he was doing an ultra-marathon (62 miles). 
Well, in May, he ran in another ultra, this time 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West. The organizers give runners 36 hours to complete it. Maughan did it in 21 hours 3 minutes, including an hour he spent at mile 80 helping a woman who collapsed and had to be taken away in an ambulance. 
While many of us may think there’s something wrong in his head, he’s got a good heart and ran the race to raise money for the Cancer Society of the Keys. (He’s from Australia.)
It’s not too late to donate. Visit his fundraising page here.
Capt. Mike and Jodi Petty have a few new things going on their lives. The first is a little darling named Ella, taking Jodi ashore. They’ve started a new business, too, making fender covers.
Their company, FendElegance, uses a material they say withstands sea air and sunlight better than most, a polyester fiber made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.
The fabric isn’t new. In 2005, Petty had custom fenders covers made out of this fabric for the yacht he was running. He saw that vessel last summer and the fender covers look as nice as the day they were put on, he said.
The new part is FendElegance, and their direction in life. Mike is freelancing now, and the couple work together on their business and raising their daughter. 
For more information click here.
Capt. Peter Harrison is working on a new project, too, romantically dubbed Perfect Life. 
A captain for the past 20 years, he’s looking for investors in the purchase of a 165-foot megayacht that would then be available for equity ownership to adventure-minded owners and taken to fabulous places around the world.
Certainly sounds like a perfect life. For more info, click here.

About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Lucy Chabot Reed →