We made it. Across the ocean. At least two of the boats. I never heard what happened to the third. Along the way we ran out of food, water, and fuel, as we spent weeks becalmed in the middle of the Atlantic and bobbing helplessly in the deepest part of the ocean.
For the last few days of the crossing we survived on rationed crackers I picked up during an emergency detour to the Cape Verde islands off Senegal, where we had to leave just as quickly as we arrived because of an outbreak of cholera and dengue fever.
Our ultimate destination was the British Virgin Islands, but by the time we caught sight of hills of Antigua we were so exhausted and angry and mutinous that we plotted the possibility of abandoning the boat right there. It would mean that the skipper would have failed in his delivery and would not be paid.
But rounds of shots at the Mad Mongoose in English Town allowed the kindness back in, and maybe just because of the relief at our survival, and we continued to Tortola.
Within a few days of finally tying up in Tortola, I found another berth, this time on a boat going through the Panama Canal to New Zealand and Australia. The next leg, all the way around, and to who knew where after that. But at least I felt that if I was out on the water, lost in the waves, going nowhere in circles, at least I would be out of sight and reach.
With two weeks before my next ride left for the canal, I decided to visit my younger brother in Cincinnati whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years. And everything changed, yet again, plans abandoned but hope restored. I met a beautiful woman, fell in love, got married, and not long after that we were crew mates on a new adventure, driving across America to a new life in San Francisco. Rumbling across America in a Ryder truck full of cockroaches and enough dried blood to suggest a recent human slaughter, and accompanied by two rescue cats called Itty Bitty Shitty Kitty and Fat Flying Fur Fuck. I had finally been domesticated but still longed to be feral.
17 years later, after building an award-winning career in cybersecurity and never enjoying a single moment of it, we made the journey back across the Sierras and the plains. Still with two cats, although one was comfortably curled up in an urn, and two new additions with seven legs between them.
And taking up no space at all but bossy and noisey all the way was a handful of diagnoses – depression, social anxiety with avoidant personality, ADD, suicidal ideation, and a collection of other waifs, groupies, and stragglers.
But while I was always lonely at least I was never alone.
In the ashes of Intrepid, the Crypto Wars raged on. In the same year that Intrepid died, the American government launched a three-year campaign of investigation and intimidation against Phil Zimmerman, an American cryptographer who was offering his own unbreakable encryption software free of charge to anyone who wanted it.
He was accused of breaking the US Arms Control Act but after three years of harassment the US Government simply dropped the case. In 1996, President Bill Clinton took the first steps to release the government’s grip on unbreakable encryption, a grip that was finally released in 2000.
But even today, the Crypto Wars still rage, with a growing number of politicians questioning whether unbreakable encryption should really be a civil right, and pressing that the government and law enforcement should always be allowed back-door access to private conversations if needed.
As I finished writing this book thirty years after all those events, yet another secret revealed itself. In 1988, right at the birth of Intrepid, a highly-publicized inquest was held into the killing of three IRA members, by the British SAS special forces, on the rock of Gibraltar just a few months earlier.
I didn’t realize that one of the first consultants we hired, a math and crypto expert from a different University in the north of Dublin, was an expert witness at that inquest and on behalf of the families of those killed.
Maybe we had more enemies than we thought. And I constantly wonder how many more secrets will reveal themselves.