Chasing Bubbles Foundation shares future of sailing vessel

Bubbles wants to embark on a new adventure.

The sailing vessel that Capt. Alex Rust navigated around the world starting in 2008 and ending when he died unexpectedly May 28, 2013, while traveling in India is back in the hands of the Chasing Bubbles Foundation.

During an event Oct. 1 outside Schwätzer’s German Restaurant in downtown Seymour, the foundation’s president and one of Alex’s brothers, Joe Rust, announced Bubbles has a new captain, Kevin Reder.

When Rust met Reder, he said he knew his outgoing personality and go-get-‘em attitude could be a nice gust of wind into their sails.

The foundation’s board nominated Reder to head up Project Buy Back S/V Bubbles, and he is responsible for getting the boat back into full sailing condition.

“We now have a way to amplify what we’re doing,” Rust said. “The boat is going to become our megaphone. We’re going to be able to travel around the world in this boat and really tell Alex’s story and really use it to raise a lot of funds.”

The boat, however, is in pretty bad shape. A hurricane took the mast off, and there are several other problems.

Reder said Bubbles needs a new mast, sails and an engine, and the total cost — if they want to do it right and make it comfortable for those aboard — would be around $220,000.

He already has come up with ways to raise funds to make it all happen.

By partnering with Boy Scouts of America in the Virgin Islands, Reder could lead Scouts through a six-week program to practice navigating a boat. That would raise $60,000 ($10,000 per week), but it must be taught by a registered captain.

“Over the course of the next month, that’s what my opportunities are is to go and get my captain credential to make sure that we can harness that opportunity and then bring some income in and make sure that Bubbles continues to sail,” Reder said.

The foundation also is opening up 53 spots for people to give a minimum donation of $250 to go down to spend some time on Bubbles.

“In my mind, the Midwest is a great place for you to grow up and be, but we don’t have a lot of opportunities or we do but they are not always presented to us, so this is a way to get out away from the Midwest and do some exploration, experience what something like Bubbles has to offer and go out and explore the world like Alex did,” Reder said.

He also has a goal to get Bubbles up and running so it can sail the Great Loop, which is the Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, Hudson Bay and Great Lakes, on a promotional tour.

“We’re trying to use the boat to make sure that things continue to happen and make sure that kids pursue their dreams,” Reder said.

The “Chasing Bubbles” documentary about Alex Rust’s adventures has been inspiring dreamers worldwide since its release in 2016, and that led to the establishment of the Chasing Bubbles Foundation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Alex’s circumnavigation of the globe, his love for children and his larger-than-life aspirations to make an impact on the world have helped shape the foundation’s mission, dream and values.

The mission is to empower kids around the world to chase their dreams, the dream is to have a world filled with people who dare to challenge the status quo and the values are courage, adventure, humanity and shepherding.

It all goes back to 2008 when Alex quit his lucrative job at the Chicago Board of Trade and drove to Florida to chase a dream. He traded his old minivan for a small sailboat and taught himself to sail with a “Sailing for Dummies” book.

Alex soon set sail from Florida with a few friends headed toward the Bahamas and never looked back. What followed was a four-year adventure that took Alex to the farthest corners of the globe, where he discovered, among many other things, that the beauty of humanity transcends wealth, language and location.

Alex chose to sail around the world to as many hard-to-reach islands and rivers as he could find. Many of these places could only be accessed by boat, and each stop was an opportunity for Alex to meet the local people, especially to give the kids presents and boat rides.

After returning home from his off-the-beaten-path adventure, Alex felt a loss in his heart. He had always dreamed of having his own family full of many kids, but his journey around the world showed him there were already so many kids waiting for someone to help them chase their dreams.

This realization pushed Alex to the remote corners of India, where he searched for a way to help rural orphanages find the support they needed.

Tragically, while exploring ways to do so, his journey was cut short in May 2013. He died of complications while recovering from typhoid fever. He was 28.

This final adventure was the launching point for the mission of the foundation and where its first project launched.

“Shortly after this documentary was released, we decided there was a ripple happening,” Joe Rust said. “A ripple was being made by Alex’s story and how there was a difference that we could make.”

A couple of years ago, Reder joined a sailing squad and wound up watching “Chasing Bubbles,” and a friend told him he saw similarities between him and Alex.

A few weeks later, Reder bought his first sailboat.

“Man, I was just inspired by Alex’s story,” he said. “I identified with him a lot. He was a Midwestern boy, as much as I was from Michigan, and doing big things. I identified with that and went and bought my sailboat and started doing things like Alex did, just living big.”

When he later learned Bubbles was on a bay on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands near where he lived, Reder got to know the owners.

They later put it up for sale, and Reder and Joe and Solomon Rust decided to purchase it. Bubbles is now in St. Thomas.

“We’re trying to continue the legacy of Capt. Alex Rust, where we’re inspiring people, inspiring kids to chase their dreams and pursue the nonpseudonorm,” Reder said. “Here we are in 2022 making sure that we do that.”

Joe encourages people to visit and sign up for the mailing list to receive updates and announcements about new and ongoing projects, events and other foundation news.

They also can buy and wear shirts created by the foundation to support the brand and spread the word about the documentary that tells Alex’s story.

“We’re just trying to inspire people to chase their own dreams, and we feel like stories are the most impactful way to do that,” Joe said. “The more you can get involved, the more we can amplify the stories of Alex and other people who are daring greatly to chase their dreams. The story of the ripple that he’s creating in the waves and the waters of the world can continue to grow with your support today.”

On the Web 

For information about the Chasing Bubbles Foundation, visit

To watch the “Chasing Bubbles” documentary, visit