Meet the Commodore: Steve Harris

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Steve Harris’ fascination with boating on the Hudson is nothing new. As a child growing up on Thayer Street, he often went down to the river with his cousin to fish. He spent long hours watching people ply the water in rowboats, powerboats and canoes.

“I didn’t want to fish,” he recalls. “I wanted to be one of the people in the boats!” 

There wasn’t any public paddling on the Hudson at the time, so he had to settle for renting rowboats at the lake in Van Cortlandt Park.

Back then there were still several boat clubs on our stretch of the river. Harris moved to California and lived there until about a decade ago. When he moved back, only the Inwood Canoe Club was still standing. 

By then, the club had begun offering Open House. He came every Sunday he could and helped out: “Whatever anyone wanted to do, I tried to pitch in.” In the time-honored manner, he became a member, then a Senior member; then he joined the board.

As soon as he became a Senior, Harris says, he began pushing to accept more members

“Almost everybody was a Senior,” he explains. “I want to make it more open to everybody who’s passionate about what we do. My biggest goal is to get more of the community involved, especially Inwood and Washington Heights.”

Paddling the Hudson, he says, opens your eyes to new aspects of the neighborhood.

In an area rich with parks, “This is a whole other playground — it’s a whole other way to commune with nature,” he enthuses. “I think it opens a lot of possibilities for people."

Harris was elected Commodore in 2016. When he isn’t paddling or attending to boathouse business, he works as an audio, photography and videography specialist at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He and his girlfriend Barbara, also a Senior member, live in Chelsea.