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Welcome to the memorial page for

Robert D. Harris

November 26, 1948 ~ June 27, 2017 (age 68)

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Robert Dennis Harris, passed away June 27, at his home in Alameda, California, he was 68 years old.

Known as “Rocky” by family and friends, he lived an adventurous, colorful, and extraordinary life, the type of swashbuckling character you might read about in a Jack London novel.

Rocky was born in Hanford, California, November 26, 1948.  He was one of eight children and the eldest son of Robert and Veda Harris.

He was raised in California’s Central Valley, but spent his life on the sea. After serving in the U.S. Army and returning from Vietnam in 1969, Rocky moved to San Francisco, where he launched a long and storied career as crew aboard iconic San Francisco ships and as a captain of Bay Area ferry boats.

A natural born story teller, his life journeys provided no shortage of tales.  They began along the San Francisco Wharf, where he crewed historic tall ships including the Balclutha, a National Historic Monument. Docked at Pier 41, the Balclutha is where he married Cameron “Cam” Orcutt Harris, inside the Captain’s quarters, in 1982.  Later he worked aboard the Golden Hind, and was a member of the crew that sailed her to Japan to film the movie Shogun.

During the 70’s & 80’s, Rocky was a familiar fixture around the waterfront.  He could be spotted at the helm in the wheelhouse, sliding down 150 feet masts, or exchanging tales at the original Eagle Café.

He spent his days working on boats and his nights sleeping aboard his own sailboat, The Spray, docked at the St. Francis Yacht Club, in San Francisco. He and Cam lived aboard the Spray more than 20 years, including the five years they spent sailing around the world with their cat, Bummer.

When they returned from their five-year voyage, they moved to Alameda and Rocky became a licensed captain.  Rocky spent 23 years crisscrossing the San Francisco Bay as a ferry boat captain, carrying nearly half a million commuters and tourists during his career with Harbor Bay Maritime and the Blue and Gold Fleet.


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