A lifeline to cling to

I write with reference to your recent correspondence ("From Sussex to the high seas", e-mail, 14 October) and can confirm my good friend Richard Payne's sentiments to this wondrous new (to me) communications gift.

Having been at sea many years, I used to look forward to my once-a-trip (five months) phonecall home, which was either over a very poor-quality land line on port call or, more recently, over a very expensive satellite connection. There were, of course, the letters - with news at least two weeks out of date.

Now, for half the cost of a second-class stamp, I can contact my family, friends or business associates at any time, day or night. Whether the ship is in a raging storm deep in the Atlantic or dodging the growlers in the Barents Sea, I can send and receive messages almost instantaneously and it need not only be the written word.

By attaching a .wav file to an e-mail, I received a voice message halfway across the world from my two daughters in Sussex which had only been recorded half an hour earlier - fantastic!

Mark Stevens


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