Skype for the Cruising Sailor

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'How long has this been going on?’ that’s what a cruising friend said to me recently when I showed her my Skype set-up. I had to admit I didn’t know the answer to that, but it certainly must be every cruising sailor’s dream.

When you are away from home, it’s the telephone calls that mean a lot, both to you, and to your family. With Skype, all you need is a Skype login and password and a earphone and speaker headset. Then you can walk into any internet café and dial to landlines anywhere in the world for next to nothing. And of course, if the person you’re calling also has Skype, then the call is completely FREE.

To give you an idea of the costs, calling from Europe to Australia is around US 2cents a minute – cheaper than a normal mobile! If you DO call a mobile, it’s still only around US 20cents a minute.

So, how to do it? In brief, go to www.skype.com and click on ‘Download’. This takes about five minutes and is free. (

Later, if you are in an internet café, and they don’t have Skype, you can do it right then.) First you have to set up a user name and password, and you’re in business. Put on your earphones and speaker, and the first thing you need to do is the ‘Skype Test Call’. Click on the icon, and a computer will tell you to record a few words at the beep for 10 seconds – just like an answer machine. If you have configured Skype correctly, you will then hear your own words back.

To call someone with Skype, you can do it immediately, even if you don’t know their Skype address – just put in their email or name and surname, and Skype will locate them. There are securities in place so that you don’t get unwanted calls, however, so if it’s someone who doesn’t want to hear from you, they can reject the call.

To call someone who doesn’t have Skype, you have to first use your credit card to get some credit – also an easy task, just follow the prompts. Once you have some credit, why, dial away…..

Perfect for the cruising sailor, cheap, works well – I’ve been using one for two years now, and recommend it to my friends.

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