In early 2010, Colt stole an airplane on the mainland and flew it, once again, at night and landed on the Orcas runway. By now Colt had become a worldwide phenomenon and a serious embarrassment to law enforcement.
Colt told friends that he was fine, even relaxed, during all this. He enjoyed the chase and staying one step ahead of the cops, SWAT teams, FBI and even Homeland Security, which chased him around Orcas all winter using Black Hawk helicopters. Finally, when a 24-foot Sea Sport was stolen from San Juan Island and grounded on Shark Reef, Lopez Island, Washington, residents hoped he’d moved on for good.
Surveillance cameras at a 110-slip marina at the top of Lopez Island recorded Colt calmly walking up and down the docks, boat shopping for nearly seven hours. He boarded at least six boats before settling on a Coastal Craft 300 Cruiser, a $400,000 pocket yacht, which he returned for the following night. He jumped aboard the Stella Maris and, with a Seattle couple sitting topside just one slip away reading books, he spent half an hour getting the front hatch open by spinning the dogs from the outside. Once aboard, he found the ignition keys hidden in a silverware drawer. The last image on the surveillance tape was the boat, with fenders still dangling, idling out of its slip.
The Stella Maris was found abandoned off the southern tip of Camano Island. The next boat bread crumb was a 27-foot Maxum, hot-wired for the short trip to Kitsap Peninsula.
On Memorial Day 2010, Colt arrived at Cape Disappointment and the infamous Columbia River Bar, the most crowded crypt in a stretch of the coast called the Graveyard of the Pacific.
While it’s no place for faint-of-heart boaters, there’s great fishing on both sides of the bar. Larry Johnson docks his 34-foot twin-diesel Ocean Sport Roamer, named Fat Cat, here at the Port of Ilwaco. He keeps watch on his baby via the marina’s webcam, logging on at least once a day. Johnson had fished Fat Cat that afternoon and put her safely to bed in her slip, right next to a full-time live-aboard. The only weak link in his boat’s security? Johnson kept an emergency key hidden in a cockpit locker.
At 12:45 the following morning, Colt found that key and cruised down the snaky channel past the Coast Guard dock and out into the Columbia. Authorities found the boat later that day in Warrenton, Oregon, but Colt was just getting started.
From Oregon, Colt struck out east, stealing a series of cars, pickups and SUVs. He took one more boat while still in the United States, a canoe, to cross the Mississippi River.
In Burlington, Indiana, on July 4th, he broke into a hangar and stole a Cessna 400, flying it more than 1,000 miles to Great Abaco in the Bahamas.
With Colt wanted in nine states and three countries, and with a new FBI reward on his head, the Bahamian police and military hit the streets of Marsh Harbour sporting assault rifles and machine guns. Colt slipped into a marina and aboard a Sea Ray 450 Sundancer.
In totally unfamiliar waters in the middle of the night, the kid navigated down the coast of Great Abaco and out into the Atlantic. He pounded across 56 miles of open water with big storm swells rolling into his port beam the entire way.
Colt’s luck and skill ran out atop the Devil’s Backbone, a coral reef off Eleuthera that has been claiming hulls forever.