Scott Harris is Andrew’s father and the President of The Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation. The following is his story about how his passion for the ocean began and evolved to include his family and friends.
Harris Family Photo: Scott and Andrew
I’m a Florida native who grew up fishing every chance I got.
In the 1960s I cast lures for trout in the Banana River near Patrick Air Force base in Cocoa Beach nearly every weekend with my father and “Uncle Dick” Wise. Occasionally there were trips to Sebastian inlet to catch bluefish when they were running, or even better, to fish for kingfish and whatever else was biting at Bethel Shoals.
Once a year there was a magical trip to stay at the Buccaneer on Singer Island and fish the Gulf Stream off Palm Beach County!
I’ll never forget the thrill of catching my first 15 pound dolphin!
In the early 1970s we moved to Jupiter and every weekend was spent fishing offshore. During the week I fished the river from bridges and boats. I cast my net off the Tequesta Drive bridge for mullet and when the basket on my old bike was full I pedaled the five miles to Captain Cal’s Cove (where the Square Grouper is now). Cal would buy my mullet for 10 cents a pound. Many times I watched him open a freezer already bulging with mullet to put mine in.
I loved snorkeling in the river and around the US1 and Cato’s bridges and restored the old rods and reels I found, and even a 1950s outboard engine.
My dad and I fished constantly and after my dad retired he wrote the immensely popular “Angling With Art” fishing column in the Jupiter Courier for over 20 years.
I always dreamed of having a boat of my own to explore Jupiter’s waters and find trophy fish.
By the mid 1980s I did have boats of my own and was taking my wife, Martha, and friends fishing all the time. A few years later our kids were old enough to fish and my son Andrew was hooked right away. We fished all the time and I have great memories of our catches. Andrew’s most unique early catch was a flying fish that he caught on a sardine strip!
Andrew was my constant companion on every trip and loved every minute on the water. There were many great trips, catches and pictures!
We had some harrowing experiences as well. One afternoon, in the pre mobile radar days, we were fishing the Gulf Stream after Andrew got home from school when wicked purple storm clouds approached from the west. Within a few minutes our path to the Stuart inlet to the north was blocked as was the path to Palm Beach to the south. Heading east towards the Bahamas didn’t seem like a good option. We could still see land at the Jupiter inlet, but that was in the heart of the darkness.
The storm came right at us and the one foot seas were soon three, then five, then seven feet and more while being driven by 50 mph winds that had already left destruction on shore. We sailed east like a cork being driven by the storm. That wasn’t working out well, so I decided our best option was to run straight west into the storm so we could get through it to clear skies on the landward side. I bundled Andrew in life jackets and covered him up underneath me as I stood at the helm getting blasted by rain so hard I could barely keep my eyes open.
The seas were so high, steep and close together that I could just make headway before waves broke so far over the bow that they hit the console. The wind was so strong that if the bow came off course from 180 degrees into the wind the boat was blown sideways. Lightning was cracking all over and a bolt hit so close it disabled my radio.
We weathered the storm together for a long time that was probably twenty or thirty minutes and finally came out the other side.
Whenever Andrew thanked me for doing something, I always told him to thank me by doing the same for his children.
He told me he knew he would because he had been taken care of and knew what it felt like.
Andrew later discovered SCUBA diving and it became his passion. I was skeptical about how long he would stick with it as he regularly rode me to give it a try. I finally conceded that he was seriously passionate about diving and decided to get certified.
I was hooked after my first dive! Thirty years of fishing off Jupiter had built an insatiable curiosity in me about what was “down there”. It drives me still. Andrew and I loved to spearfish and catch lobsters off Jupiter and dove constantly for the last three years after he finished college and moved back to Jupiter.
Andrew had grown into a fine young man who had graduated from FSU with degrees in Insurance and Risk Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He had built a thriving local insurance agency and was well on his way to reaching his lofty goals.
Then I got the call on June 8, 2014 that Andrew had been in an accident. A thousand friends and family attended his service.
We can’t bring Andrew back, but we can honor his memory, assure he is not forgotten and build on his legacy.
We’ve decided that building artificial reefs that will be named after Andrew’s foundation is the perfect way to do just that.
His family and friends established the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation on July 8, 2014 and we are hard at work raising money to build artificial reefs. Many have told me that they are not just glad we started the foundation and are building reefs in Andrew’s honor, they are thankful that we did.
It hasn’t even been a month, but everyone is pulling together to help and we are off to a great start. We are well on our way to funding our first project!
Think about what you are passionate about.
If it includes the south Florida marine lifestyle and working with others to make Jupiter even better, come on over and join Martha and I, our daughter, Christina, son, Ryan, and our friends and family in creating beautiful new reefs that will last for generations!
Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation