Sylva Fae

Saving The World (I hope)

I emailed the US Navy this morning before I’d even had my first coffee!


  • Ten days of obsessive pouring over puzzles and codes.
  • Pages and pages (I raided the children’s drawing supplies) of random musings, facts and figures.
  • Countless hours of researching obscure illustrations in ancient books and the quatrains of Nostradamas.
  • Twenty three bookmarked windows on my phone browser linking to cipher solvers, Braille, semaphore, Morse Code, time zones and other potentially useful information.
  • Piles of puzzle solutions hastily scribbled in crayon on the back of envelopes littering the living room.

All this in an attempt to solve puzzles and ciphers in a fictitious game run on behalf of America’s Navy. The Navy CyberMind Initiative Operation Sleeper Shark is a series of complex challenges, requiring creative thinking and tenacity, and solved through collaboration on social media.

In the previous game I mostly worked alone preferring not to look at any of the comments. This time around it was nice to see the previous players reappear; like meeting up with old friends. Little groups formed and collaboration was the key to solving these puzzles. My own little band of cyberworld friends were there in the background puzzling along with me and spurring me on and a number of last year’s winners were my co-collaborators. I’m grateful to the invaluable hints I received and I hope my ideas helped others. I’m in awe of the game leaders for their amazing lateral thinking and the speed they solved the unsolvable; I just rambled along at my own pace, always a day behind the elite. I’m also in awe of the geniuses Lowe Campbell Ewald and Puzzabllity, who created these intricate and complicated puzzles. The amount of thought and research that went into this surpasses anything we did to solve it.

Finally after all that puzzling, I think, I hope, I had the right information to direct the US Navy to deactivate the packages hidden on ships. Well, when I say I sent the email, I should actually have said emails plural. The first was ready to be sent but an over exuberant cuddle from my littlest accidentally changed and prematurely sent the message. Ahem, a little embarrassing to have to write back to the Navy apologising for the first garbled email. Ah well, it’s an illustration of the multitasking skills required to crack codes while entertaining boisterous small children. How many other players read Nostradamas while cooking tea, researched the history of Rome in between bedtime stories or attempted to find longitude and latitudes while navigating an adventure playground rope bridge? (Actually there was one other)

So now it’s just a waiting game, waiting for America to wake up and go to work. I’m doubting my answers and I’ve checked my email a ridiculous number of times. It’s all very exciting and yet humbling at the same time. This was just ten days and only a game but around the world real people are dealing with far more complex problems than this on a daily basis. It’s simultaneously scary and reassuring that jobs like this actually exist. I am thankful for the skills and intelligence of our own navy and the US Navy that ensure my family can live a happy and safe life.

And me, my inner geek has been banished, I need some woodland therapy and I’m happy to go back to being the fluffy Sylva Fae … until the next one.


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