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Old 18-06-2008, 18:49   #1
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Insanity: Taking others flat mail home!

On a couple of cruisers nets on VHF I have heard the net controllers ask: "If you are going home and want to take flat mail for other cruisers tell us now".

I have never heard anything quite so insane for someone in a country a few miles from Columbia (or anywhere else) to suggest but to take someone elses mail back to the USA (or wherever) and go through customs with it.

Is there something I am missing? Or do cruisers really trust people that much to take something through customs from someone they dont even know?

A small dose of cocaine in an envelope could have you in jail till the boat rots....?


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Old 18-06-2008, 18:57   #2
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Old 18-06-2008, 19:53   #3
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I have never heard anything quite so insane for someone in a country a few miles from Columbia (or anywhere else) to suggest but to take someone elses mail back to the USA (or wherever) and go through customs with it.
Getting mail home is a big deal. If they wanted to smuggle drugs they sure would not give it to you. If it did have drugs in it why would they send a small amount to someone and think you could smuggle it through.
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Old 18-06-2008, 19:58   #4
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The flat mail should be unopened. Happens most places where the mail is iffy at best.
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Old 18-06-2008, 20:01   #5
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. If it did have drugs in it why would they send a small amount to someone and think you could smuggle it through.
Because they couldnt care if you got caught or not. As you wouldnt know the person anyway, they are just another cruiser, the cops wouldnt care so much about following up as they have you in jail.

I can just imagine the response when asked at the airport about the 2 grams of coke in the envelope: "Ummm this bloke called Pirate Pete gave the envelop to me. I never actually saw his boat....."
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Old 18-06-2008, 20:13   #6
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Mark, I agree with you. It's not like mailboxes in other countries are difficult to find. Buy a stamp and mail it. If sailing is the ultimate in self reliance, getting mail home should be easy.
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Old 18-06-2008, 20:24   #7
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Mark, actually documented vessels are empowered by Congress to carry the mail, under agreement with the International Postal Union regulations.

One of the oddities of being a documented vessel, is that you are allowed to go to any foreign post office and ask for mail inbound to the United States, and you are then allowed to carry in directly to a US Post Office as a postal "carrier". Meaning, you do no thave to stop for the USCG, or Customs, or anyone else, until after the mail has been delivered to the nearest USPS facility and you relinquish custody of it.

So, asking folks for flat mail might not be so odd. Carrying posted mail gives you an oddly protected status and an express ticket home--although the average Coastie might disagree about that and he's the one with the gun. Carrying mail that was not given to you by another postal entity--that I've seen nothing about. You'd have to research that one on its own.

Law's the law, it is in the USC someplace with other oddities that time has not yet extinguished.
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Old 18-06-2008, 21:04   #8
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This is very common, in the Bahamas they request the envelopes to be unsealed. A couple were flying back during the holidays and asked on the net if anyone had outbound mail. We sent home over 20 Xmas cards with them, some had checks and some had cash. Every card was received intact to the recipient. I believe they had close to 75 pieces of mail, someone even had them take their tax return. Not uncommon at all and very appreciated!
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Old 19-06-2008, 11:52   #9
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Unsealed no doubt decreases the possibilities of trouble no end, but for me does not 100% exclude the potential for problems. I would never do it (or ask someone to).

But I am not very trusting.........
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Old 19-06-2008, 11:59   #10
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Unsealed no doubt decreases the possibilities of trouble no end, but for me does not 100% exclude the potential for problems. I would never do it (or ask someone to).

But I am not very trusting.........
I'm shocked, shocked that the author of my favorite CF quote ("If you can't trust a complete stranger on the internet, who can you trust?") would admit he's not very trusting.

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Old 19-06-2008, 12:04   #11
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I wouldn't mind sending along routine things with other people. I wouldn't send anything like a tax return though unless I knew them REALLY well.

As far as taking stuff, I wouldn't mind taking along letters and such. I personally wouldn't take any packages from strangers or even bulky envelopes, but again, routine simple letters like christmas cards and the like, why not?

For friends I know, the situation changes, I'd probably take anything reasonably sized along if I knew it was for a friend.
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Old 19-06-2008, 12:45   #12
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I'm shocked, shocked that the author of my favorite CF quote ("If you can't trust a complete stranger on the internet, who can you trust?") would admit he's not very trusting.

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Old 19-06-2008, 13:25   #13
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It's not like mailboxes in other countries are difficult to find. Buy a stamp and mail it.
This is an interesting statement. It depends on what country you are in and more importantly what part. There are populated islands in the Bahamas where the mail boat comes once per week (weather and tide permitting). The local "post office", if any, is really just a mailbox, they don't sell stamps, and no one knows the correct postage anyway - you either wait and deal directly with the mail boat or forget it. Or, in some places you can just leave your letter with a couple of USDs at the local grocery store and they take care of it for you (eventually).

Of course, there are many remote anchorages in the Bahamas and Caribbean where there is no mail service at all. You can sail someplace else to mail a letter or you can take advantage of an offer from a fellow cruiser. I agree with sv-Mystique. we did it many times and never had a problem. I'm probably naive, but yes - I trust fellow cruisers who offer to mail letters for me and I would do the same for them.
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Old 19-06-2008, 13:32   #14
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This is a very common practice where the local mail doesn't work too well and there are many countries where this is the case. Lots of guests in the Bahamas take mail back to the States and Canada for cruisers. It's just another instance of cruisers helping each other out. Nothing out of the ordinary, if you don't want to do it don't but don't call it crazy because you don't understand it. The cruising community is still one where most cruisers are willing to help others. By the way, for those who don't understand it,the mail is stamped by the sender. It is then put in a mailbox by the good Samaritan when he/she gets to the States or Canada.
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Old 19-06-2008, 13:34   #15
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- I trust fellow cruisers who offer to mail letters for me and I would do the same for them.
Its not about that... its about taking fellow cruisers sealed envelopes with drugs in them across boarders!
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