18
$\begingroup$

A pirate's treasure...
Billy the pirate buried his plunder at the mouth of a large river. He killed all of his crew then made his way on foot back to civilization. He ended up getting sick with yellow fever and died in a hospital bed.

Just before he passed he whispered to the nurse the coordinates to the buried gold. The nurse believed it was the high fever and delirium, but he insisted she write it down.

Many years later her great-grandson Jack, while packing for the second Great War, found the note in a box belonging to his long dead relative. Not knowing the importance of the note, he sent a telegram over the wire to his grandfather who was still living in DC.

Unfortunately the message never reached his grandfather: the Germans had intercepted the telegram. The U-boat captain prepared to send the message back to high command, when the sub hit a mine.

My grandfather found the message during a salvage operation. Can anyone help me find the gold?

y7.9z/d.f4!\,j01"r@p$(5)+wzyx.7e/h,l0fom@81ou y'+v4/3-7x!\?@e,"5'+$@mnrqb+avde-zyxa9oe3,qlu o@nwz5r-zy .sd/3,2l9\?@8r0pu v(1)-7bc(4defhc!\?omh"5'+ mstd5'q$(6)o

It's probably an easy one to solve. I can give a hint if necessary.

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, the @ symbols are highly anachronistic. It wasn't until 1971 that it really started being used on any regular basis. $\endgroup$ – Bobson Jun 18 '15 at 19:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is the story needed for solving the puzzle? $\endgroup$ – Kritixi Lithos Jun 19 '15 at 6:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Eric A Gold code , also known as Gold sequence, is a type of binary sequence, used in telecommunication CDMA and satellite navigation GPS. In line with the question, maybe a lead ? $\endgroup$ – moonbutt74 Aug 28 '15 at 15:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Eric i'm thinking the message may be a python or cjam string. Look at examples Pyth, 40 bytes and further along CJam, 49 bytes. The Gold code doesn't seem to be panning out. (see what i did there?) xD $\endgroup$ – moonbutt74 Aug 31 '15 at 12:44
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Pls give the hint $\endgroup$ – the4seasons Sep 24 '15 at 13:43
19
+100
$\begingroup$

The German and WWII references indicate that the message went through...

1. Enigma machine encryption

This online tool is the most straightforward for quickly decoding this puzzle's message. Use G, O, L, D in the "Position" boxes, enter the message in the "Encrypted Text" field, and hit the "Decrypt" button to get

.-.. .- - .. - ..- -.. . ----- .-.-.- ..--- ...-- ...-- ....- ..... ----. .-.. --- -. --. .. - ..- -.. . -....- ....- ----. ..... -.... ---.. ----. ...-- ----.

I'll see if I can replicate the results using another tool.

Then, the telegram reference and the look of the decoded message from the first step has the message's original encryption of...

2. Morse code

Translating the result of the first decryption gets

LATITUDE0.233459LONGITUDE-49568939

I could've made a mistake in the decryption somewhere, but I think there's a decimal missing in the longitude? Searching the coordinates 0.233459,-49.568939 online gave me a location in or near Canal Perigoso, Brazil.

And now the story makes much more sense to me. It is not just for flavour.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And those coordinates are near the mouth of a large river, and that would be a likely place for someone to get yellow fever. Bravo. $\endgroup$ – Steve Eckert Nov 24 '15 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think I would've gotten this if I haven't been trying to solve another crypto puzzle and looking up Enigma Machine variations. Me = :D $\endgroup$ – Mythi Nov 24 '15 at 21:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Bravo! I am so pleased. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Nov 24 '15 at 22:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is an amazing find! Looking through the site's code, it uses a fixed set of nonstandard wheels (and no plugboard). I think if you hadn't come across this exact implementation, we never would have solved it; nice detective work! $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Dec 5 '15 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ Good job @Mythi I have accepted your answer, it is correct $\endgroup$ – bscott Jan 13 '16 at 14:13
7
$\begingroup$

I'm new here, I hope this is the right place to post, since it is more of a possible hint than an answer:

The fact that the word GOLD is emphasized in the question caught my attention, and reminded me of "The Gold-Bug", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, in which the protagonists decipher a secret message to find a treasure buried by a pirate (Coincidence? I think not).

The cipher in Poe's novel is a simple substitution cipher that they crack using frequency analysis. Assuming we're faced with a simple substitution cipher here too (which would explain the "It's probably an easy one to solve" line from the author of the question), I tried to brute-force it a little but haven't got enough spare time on my hands to dig further.

(A last remark, that may or may not be of use: If the word "GOLD" is part of the clear text, it doesn't matter whether the clear is in English or in German, since it is the same word in the two languages.)

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobson mentioned that there are 48 distinct characters, so a simple substitution cipher seems unlikely. I do really like the potential connection with Poe, though. I'll think on that. $\endgroup$ – dpwilson Nov 24 '15 at 19:43
0
$\begingroup$

WIKI FOR ANALYSIS

Character mix and frequency:

CHAR    ASCII   FREQ
---------------------
        32      5
!       33      3
"       34      3
$        36      3
'       39      4
(       40      4
)       41      3
+       43      5
,       44      5
-       45      4
.       46      4
/       47      4
0       48      3
1       49      3
2       50      1
3       51      3
4       52      3
5       53      5
6       54      1
7       55      4
8       56      2
9       57      3
?       63      3
@       64      6
\       92      4
a       97      2
b       98      2
c       99      2
d       100     5
e       101     5
f       102     3
h       104     3
j       106     1
l       108     3
m       109     4
n       110     2
o       111     6
p       112     2
q       113     3
r       114     4
s       115     2
t       116     1
u       117     3
v       118     3
w       119     2
x       120     3
y       121     5
z       122     5

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.