John Lipscomb became Riverkeeper’s boat captain in 2000. Having grown up in Irvington and Tarrytown, he learned to swim and sail in the Hudson River. Most of Mr. Lipscomb’s career has revolved around boats. In the early 1970’s, he apprenticed for “old time” WWII-era boat builders to learn boat maintenance and construction at Petersen’s Boatyard in Nyack. He has worked in boat building and repair on both wood and fiberglass vessels, and as a rigger. In 1991 Mr. Lipscomb became General Manager of Petersen’s until 2000. He has sailed as Captain aboard a number of 30’ to 65’ blue water sailing vessels in the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific and South China Sea. His ocean voyages include three Trans Atlantic crossings and one Trans Pacific from Los Angeles to Singapore. Mr. Lipscomb has also worked as a soundman and co-producer on a number of documentary TV specials with his father, filmmaker James Lipscomb. Made for National Geographic, Audubon, Turner and ABC, the films featured subjects such as the polar bears in Hudson Bay, a Yukon River raft expedition, conservationists working to protect lions in The Kalahari Dessert, the debate over the harvest of “old growth” forests in the Pacific Northwest, and sail training in the North Atlantic aboard the 200’ square rigged ship “Danmark”.
In September, 2000, Mr. Lipscomb began patrolling the Hudson for Riverkeeper aboard the “R. Ian Fletcher”, a 36-foot wooden vessel similar in design to a lobster boat. From March through December each year, he travels approximately 5,000 nautical miles between New York Harbor and Troy or Fort Edward, searching out and deterring polluters, monitoring tributaries and waterfront facilities, providing support for scientific studies, and taking regional decision makers out on the river so that “the river has a chance to advocate for itself.”