The folks at Voyagers Mail Forwarding Service (http://www.vmfs.com
) have an interesting service for cruisers we thought you should know about.
Just picture this:
"Sure, you can ask your sister take care of your mail for you. You arrive in Nassau, and since you are only planning to stay there for two days, you ask her to Fed Ex your 4 lbs. of mail (it adds up quickly) to you. The next day after work she runs down to the corner Mail Boxes Etc. and unknowingly pays a marked up price of $125.90 (the actual cost charged by Fed Ex is $63.20).
You are in George Town, Exumas and your heat exchanger decides to die. After six static filled (very expensive) phone calls, you find a company that will ship you a new one. Unfortunately they don't know that they should ask you to fax them a copy of your cruising permit. If it does not accompany the package, you will probably be paying some high duty charges when it arrives. Another $100 down the drain! I hope they also understand the ins and outs of international shipping so you will actually get it. They will also charge whatever mark up they want to on the shipping. Contact us via e-mail, phone or fax to have started your part on its way to you with the proper documentation attached.
You've learned your lesson and tell your sister to send the next 4 lbs. of mail to the Turks & Caicos as cheaply as possible. She dutifully stands in line for 20 minutes at the local post office and they tell her that cheapest rate is only $9.97. You have about a 50/50 chance of ever seeing that package again, and make plans to sit tight for about 2 months! Even if she had sent it airmail, you would probably still be waiting for the package over a month later. As a result, you miss making your credit card payment and it stays on your record for seven years. You become sooooo bored waiting for your mail that you'll probably rent a car to tour the island for $55.00 a day.
We speak from experience (I recall sending an airmail letter to the CSY boat owners association in the US from Provodenciales. They later published that the letter was dated in April, postmarked in May, and received in June).
Your sister sends your next batch of mail, including that raw water pump you so desperately need for your engine, to you at Spice Island Marine in Grenada. Unfortunately, she doesn't know that, while the boat is entitled to duty free status for these types of goodies, you the person have to pay import duty. She addressed the package to you, instead of the boat, and now you are probably going to have to grease somebody's palm (pay duty) before you ever see that water pump. Don't expect that package to be delivered either. It's time to rent a taxi and spend the day tracking it down at the customs office in St. Georges, or at the airport, or.... God help you if she didn't declare the pump at the correct value and attach the proper paperwork (or worse yet, didn't declare it at all and just tried to sneak it through).
A full year has now passed under your keel and the mail problems seem to be finally under control. You receive your mail in Trinidad and enclosed is a two week old letter from your sister. She writes: "Dear Jack & Jill, I'm going to be moving next week…". Bummer! You'll be changing your address anyway, why not consider hiring a professional? You'll probably save more money than our annual fees cost, not to mention the frustrations. :-)"
If the Florida Keys are on your cruising agenda, please stop by their store (mile marker 88.0 Oceanside). You can anchor in Cowpens anchorage (bayside, watch your draft) and go ashore at the Marker 88 restaurant dock (N 24° 58.3' W 080° 34'). They'll be proud to show you around.
Check out their site at http://www.vmfs.com/