Colton Harris-Moore: I’ll See You at Nippers
My first foreign trip, back when I was 18, was a flight to the Bahamas via an ancient DC-3 (its door fell open just as we were taking off from Ft. Lauderdale). Since then, I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve been back to the Bahamas. I’ve crossed the Gulf Stream from Florida on boats of all sizes dozens of times. And done scores more trips on puddle jumper planes buzzing over to just about every coral cay worth landing on. I've loved the Bahamas, especially the Out Islands, ever since that first trip. And, apparently, so does 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore. So, now’s a good time for me to head back yet again.
The latest word from friends on Great Abaco is that the security tape of Colt shows he did, indeed, finish shaving his head. He’d been going for a Mr. Clean look a couple weeks ago but was interrupted by a Yankton, South Dakota, family who came home at 3 a.m. and surprised Colt just after he’d finished showering in their basement bathroom and had started to shave his head. Colt dropped the razor, ran upstairs, surprised the hell out of the family, and when the dad chased a naked Colt back into the basement, Colt aimed a red laser at him and said he had a gun. The guy wisely backed away and got his family out of the house. Colt grabbed his wet clothes out of the washing machine and bolted out a window.
And Colt, we really hope that wasn’t a handgun with a laser sight... Remember: Do anything with a gun involved and forget about it.
Anyway, perhaps knowing he was heading for warmer climes, Colt finally did crop his hair before flying a Cessna 400 to near its maximum range, leaving the plane in three feet of water near Sandy Point, Great Abaco. Which has excellent bonefishing, by the way.
If Colt did as much planning and research as I think he always does, he probably knew he was getting there during the big regatta -- party crazy time for the Abacos, which is boater crazy central. The Abaco Regatta is a bunch of salty people on a lot of boats racing every day to get to be the first ones at the next bar (Those aren’t the official rules, but in practice… oh yeah… And it’s wonderful fun). Lots of cool boats, lots of great people, lots of wild parties.
Last night was the big regatta party in Marsh Harbour, the little town where Colt may be hiding out now if he hasn't made it up to Treasure Cay. He’s the talk of the island, so he probably didn’t attend the awards ceremony. A tall, sunburned 19-year-old wouldn’t have stuck out so much with so many visitors around, but one with a shaved head? Yeah.
I hope Colt remembered to bring a hat, along with suntan lotion and some good shades — polarized are best for the glare off the water. The July sun can be brutal in the Bahamas, but the water is usually flat calm and the snorkeling and diving superlative. I’m definitely packing my mask and fins.
Outside of Regatta week and a few holidays, things are very laid-back in the Abacos… except on Sundays, when everyone who can catch a ferry, bum a boat or paddle a kayak heads across the Sea of Abaco to Nippers Bar on Great Guana Cay. I plan on getting to the Abacos in time for that weekly pig roast/blowout. Yes, I’m going there to work, but I can always start my reporting on Monday… as we say in the islands, “Soon come,” as in “I’ll get to it… someday.”
So Colt, if you’re there to really enjoy the Abacos: Nippers on Sunday. I know you don’t drink much, but the music is great, there’s an amazing beach right out front with warm, clear water, and the people watching is the best (2,500 people there last Sunday because of the regatta crowds). We'll all be barefoot, so you should feel right at home.
If you don’t make it over, do me a favor and don’t start any trouble on Sunday… we’ll all be doing what the Out Islands were made for: relaxing, soaking up the sun and sipping some rum.