On Eleuthera on the evening of July 10 — Bahamian Independence Day — Colt pulled up to a dock in a 13-foot Boston Whaler Super Sport he’d found on a trailer behind a home. He had an amiable conversation with a couple of Bahamians. Things only got testy when Colt demanded to know where the local police were because, he said, “I want to get chased!”
He then buzzed off across the dark bay to tony Harbour Island, where he left the Whaler idling at Romora Bay Resort marina’s dinghy dock and ran off into the woods carrying a Walther PPK, James Bond’s favorite gun.
Local police surrounded the area. Remarkably, Colt sneaked back to the marina. He climbed into a 32-foot Intrepid powered by twin 275 Mercury engines and blasted into the night.
Minutes later, heavily armed Bahamian police officers jumped aboard a tourist’s 27-foot Boston Whaler Outrage. With its professional captain, its owner and another American boater among those on board, the Whaler was weighed down with seven men. There was no chance it’d catch the Intrepid carrying just Colt. But keep running boats blindly through unfamiliar waters at night, and luck will run out.
Colt raced toward Whale Cut, the closest route to open water. Only one thing stood in his way. Easily visible during the day, a sandbar forces boats heading toward Whale Point to first steer away from Harbour Island and hug the North Eleuthera shoreline. Unaware, Colt headed straight across. At 3 a.m., just 40 minutes after dead low tide, Colt suddenly felt the boat bog down.
The Whaler motored close and the cops popped on their spotlights. They saw the Intrepid churning bottom, but not stuck fast. Colt tried getting the Whaler to back off by firing a shot in the air and then threatening to shoot himself. When that didn’t work, he throttled up. He was clearly going to be able to chew his way into deeper water. Once the Intrepid got clear, they’d never catch it.
The Bahamian police flipped their weapons’ safeties off and opened fire. At least 20 rounds from Uzis, a 12-gauge shotgun and a 9 mm pistol ripped through the Intrepid.
Nearly all of the gunfire hit the Intrepid’s outboards, destroying both. At least two rounds, though, struck the center console, piercing the stainless tubing of the rocket launcher behind the seat where Colt had been standing. One bullet tore through the seat cushion and cracked into the windshield. When the firing finally stopped, Colt jumped up off the deck, waved his arms and screamed, “Stop shooting! I can’t hear! I can’t hear!”
The Barefoot Bandit’s 27-month-long, headline-hogging run was over.
Colton Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to a Bahamian immigration violation and was sent back to the States. He currently resides in the Washington Correction Center. His longest sentence is seven years, three months. With time off for good behavior, he will be out on parole at the age of 25.
Bob Friel lives on Orcas Island, Washington, with his wife and 1982 Uniflite Sport Sedan, which Colt never tried to steal. His book The Barefoot Bandit is in stores now.