When you see the Baykeeper boat out patrolling the Bay, it’s thanks in large part to our volunteer Head Skipper, Geoff Potter.
Not only is Geoff often at the helm, he also handles all of the boat’s engine and hull maintenance and repairs. In addition, he selects and trains Baykeeper’s roster of volunteer skippers.
“Geoff has been our most dedicated volunteer since 1997,” says Baykeeper Executive Director Deb Self. “His expertise and vast experience with boats have made a huge contribution to our work to protect San Francisco Bay.”
After growing up in Alaska, Geoff attended the US Coast Guard Academy, graduating in 1959. What followed were many Coast Guard assignments, including setting up an international navigation station on the tiny Italian fishing island of Lampedusa. He attended post-graduate school in civil engineering and spent his later career supervising construction and maintenance at Coast Guard facilities, retiring as a captain.
Geoff and his wife, Phoebe, then spent twelve years cruising the US and Europe in their 43-foot sailboat. They spent five years in northern Europe and three years in the Mediterranean, ending up in Israel. Sailing back west across the Mediterranean against the winds proved to be “all uphill.” So they returned to their favorite country, Turkey, living there for a year before selling the boat.
Returning to San Francisco, Geoff went to work part-time as a captain for Red and White Ferries and as a tall tree trimmer. A good friend who was volunteering with Baykeeper asked Geoff if he wanted to join in. And join in he did. Geoff stopped working on the ferries six years ago, and stopped trimming tall trees recently, but has stayed on at Baykeeper.
In addition to piloting the Baykeeper boat and keeping it shipshape, Geoff and Phoebe help protect the environment by bicycling to and from their home on San Francisco’s Russian Hill. Occasionally, Geoff combines biking and boating. When the Baykeeper boat needed to be picked up after its recent paint job, he cycled to BART, took BART to Richmond, cycled to the boat yard in Point Richmond, put his bike on the boat and boated back to San Francisco.
Being Head Skipper gives Geoff a way to fulfill two of his passions, he says. “I’m a rabid liberal and I’ve spent most of my life on the water. I’m really into protecting the environment, especially the water environment. By volunteering for Baykeeper, I do two things I love at once.”
Above: Baykeeper Head Skipper Geoff Potter and Executive Director Deb Self, at our Spring Party, where Geoff was honored for his fifteen years of volunteer service.