Dear Clearwater,

I can recall my first memory of Clearwater, visiting with my parents down at South Street Seaport, not long after the Clearwater had first sailed into New York. Even as a boy I was hooked on the idea of getting people down to see a replica sailing ship with hands-on connections to the history of the river, using it as the spark to kindle the thought, “I want to help clean up this river!”

I became a member of the organization in my own right as a young adult. Once I had children, they came with me on Clearwater sails from the time they were babes-in-arms. Later, I started to volunteer for a week at a time and my two sons soon followed when they were old enough (in those days 12).

Michah and Larry 1999 after a long day.

Over the next decade, when the boat needed help around New York City, one, two, or all three of us would jump on for a sail, or a day or two; as spare deckhands or even just to “catch and throw lines.” My oldest son even studied for and took his Regents exams while living on the boat for several days; grabbing the subway from 79th Street to take the exams in the morning and then getting back in time for the afternoon sails.  

One of my joys in life, seeing my growing sons teaching captivated passengers from elementary age to college; showing the power of the boat, its educational program, and its mission to inspire people across generations. And this past summer, even during the pandemic restricted season, the 4th generation of Rothbarts, my 6 year old twin grandsons, crossed Clearwater’s decks for their first full sail.

Twin grandson’s first sail 2021.

Through hard work, the Hudson River is much cleaner than it was during my first sail all those years ago, where we only caught trash in our net, save for one lone horseshoe crab. But not long ago, I was on board during a trawl in that same area that brought up shrimp, mussels, flounder, and even sea horses.

The work started by my parents’ generation continues, the Sloop and its work need our help!

Larry Rothbart

Member, Father, Grandfather