Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Colton Harris-Moore Suspected of Going Sub-Tropical

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to post much day-to-day stuff on Colton right now, especially when it’s speculative in nature, but this is just getting too interesting. The news that he’s a suspect in another theft of a private plane — this one flown from Indiana to the Bahamas — is remarkable... so I'll remark.

I know the Bahamas extremely well from travelling there often over the past 30 years. I’ve done something like 50 magazine articles on the country, and did a photo book called Underwater Bahamas. I have a lot of friends there, and hearing that Colt may now be visiting had me wondering if he’d hacked into my address book, or at least been reading my Bahamas stories extolling all the things he likes: boating, snorkeling, fishing, island-hopping, magnificent vacation homes, and lots of small airports.

Again, as far as I know at this point there is no direct evidence that this is Colt. Playing connect the dots with stolen vehicles, though, does provide some circumstantial support to the theory it’s him. If it is, why did he go to the Bahamas and what chance does he have of staying free in an archipelago made up of some 700 mostly small islands where the locals have all known each other for generations?

Most people only know the Bahamas from a cruise stop at Nassau or Freeport. The real Bahamas, though are the Out Islands — also known as the Family Islands — slow-paced, sandy and sunny cays where life revolves around the water. Details are coming in sluggishly so far, but from the Bahamian police I spoke to last night, it sounds like whoever splashed down in this plane (a high-performance Cessna 400 flown 1,200 miles), made it to the Out Islands. I’ll report exactly where as soon as I can confirm it.

The Bahamas have a long history of acting as refuge for fascinating characters such as the pirate Blackbeard, cocaine kingpin Carlos Lehder, fugitive financier Robert Vesco, and uber-rich recluse Howard Hughes. The capital island, New Providence, was even declared the “Pirate Republic” for a short, swashbuckling period of the 18th Century.

So is Colt the latest character to attempt to hide away in the beautiful Bahamian cays? Stay tuned. To answer the first question on many minds, though: Yes, the U.S. has an extradition treaty with the Bahamas.


  1. If Colt is smart, and God knows he seems to be, he has already moved on. I don't think this was a spur of the moment decision but a well executed plan. He knows that it is going to be big news and it seems unlikely to me that Colt will just wait for the authorities to pass his photo around to all the news papers.

    What I wonder is Colt a big enough deal for the US authorities to go after him? Would a stolen boat in the Bahamas be connected to him or go unnoticed?

  2. I am blown away by the notion that a 19 year old boy could, untrained, fly a plane 1200 miles and land on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. The kid has cojones.

    Don't see how he can stay there long without getting caught....next stop Cuba??

  3. Watching in fascination from Oregon as the story develops. Bob your blog has the most up-to-date deets I've seen online, and how remarkable that your following him includes being coincidentally an expert on the Bahamas where he may have just belly-flopped. I thoroughly enjoyed your Outside Magazine article profiling the kid in January. (I recommend it to anyone as a great profile of a bright youth gone rogue.) As a former travel writer I also admire your writing style Bob. Was in Ilwaco, WA on the Long Beach peninsula over Memorial Day wknd, walked the very docks to look at boats that Sat. only to learn he'd pushed on through a couple of days after and stole one. Perhaps the biggest irony (for me anyway) was poking in at Jack's Country Store that wknd up in Ocean Park and nosed into a pulp book profiling some of Washington's pioneer outlaws, one of whom was a San Juan Islands bootlegger. Anyway---recently as you know he scooted through and perhaps stole a car in McMinnville, OR on his way east to the Midwest. A friend speculates he wanted to see The Evergreen Flight Museum there (http://www.sprucegoose.org/) while on the run. Caught on camera? This kid's disturbing escapades remind me of that spy played by Sean Penn in The Falcon & Snowman in the '80s, portraying the California kid who messed with Defense contractor secrets and was busted, on the run, eating a hamburger in Port Angeles.

  4. Thanks John. Yes, I'm still shaking my head that he picked the Bahamas, and in particular the Abacos, which I've been to the most out of all the islands.

    Both sets of islands, the San Juans and the Bahamas have had way more than their share of eccentric, edgy characters. And yes, both were big in bootlegging. There must be some reason why they're my two favorite places on the planet...

    Funny speculation on the Flight Museum. There were some other theories kicking around that he might be heading to the midwest for the big summer air show. At least for now, though, he's on Great Abaco (as of 8:10 PM Bahamas time they hadn't found him).