Walter Isbrandtsen, shown here with his wife Evelyn and children, has spent his life devoted to ships and the sea. As vice-president of the family-owned Isbrandtsen shipping company, his daily concern is the operation of 65 merchantmen scattered over the world. As founder of the Fair Haven, N.J. River Rats, his spare-time concern is the boating interest (and boating safety) of youngsters in his own community.
The upshot of a Fair Haven recreation survey that recognized the potential of the nearby Rumson River, the River Rats were organized by Isbrandtsen three years ago. Since then, some 250 parents and children have joined the club and learned sailing from Master Mariner Isbrandtsen. And, under the eye of Shipbuilder Isbrandtsen, many families have constructed their own sailboats and rowboats, frequently in his spacious backyard. Instruction in seamanship and swimming lessons are also available to the Rats.
To Walter Isbrandtsen the need for the club is as clear as the Rumson is murky.
"If you can't make the river safe for the kids," he says, "at least you can make the kids safe for the river."