Family sets sail after river rescue

Thursday, October 11, 2007
Alice Mintz, center, donned sandals Wednesday before heading to downtown Cape Girardeau with her brother, Noah, left, as their mother Judy watched them from inside the cabin of their sailboat, Wanderlust III. The boat was docked along the Mississippi River waterfront. (Kit Doyle)

The Mintz family had not intended to dock their Endeavour 40 sailboat, the Wanderlust III, in Cape Girardeau for four nights before embarking on a two-year cruise around the Caribbean, but that's where they ended up.

Bill and Judy Mintz and their three children ran into engine trouble with the boat Saturday, when a broken fuel injection line altered their plans.

After Noah Mintz, 13, swam through the muddy Mississippi River to tie off the 25,000-pound sailboat to a tree, his dad sent out an alert to the Coast Guard.

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department came to the family's rescue, and used a water rescue speedboat to take Judy, Noah, Alice, 15, and Benjamin, 9, safely to shore, while Bill, as captain, stayed behind with the boat.

"We were not going to leave our home because our engine broke down," Bill Mintz said.

Four days later, the Mintz family prepared to set sail again.

Judy Mintz and her husband sipped margaritas as she prepared a meal of minipizzas in the tiny galley of the boat cabin the night before they took to the river again for the first leg of their voyage.

Bill Mintz said he won't make a strict itinerary for the trip, but after leaving the Mississippi they are scheduled to arrive in Alabama's Mobile Bay around Nov. 1, at which point they will be cleared by their insurance to head to the Caribbean by way of the Gulf of Mexico.

They set sail Sept. 18 from Chicago.

"It took us 20 years to get enough money to do it," Judy Mintz said of the trip, which involves the family traversing the Caribbean Sea and sailing back to their hometown of Chicago by way of the Atlantic Ocean and then the Great Lakes.

"The dreaming and hoping stage lasted about 15 years," she added.

Convincing the children to leave their home and friends behind for two years took even longer, she said.

"I miss my friends, but I'm adapting better than I thought I would," said Alice Mintz, clad in a Cape Girardeau Fire and Rescue T-shirt.

The other souvenir the three Mintz children have from their stay in Cape Girardeau? A couple of stowaways in the form of two small hermit crabs purchased at West Park Mall, one name Girard after the town, the other called Perkins after the type of engine in the Wanderlust III.

Alice Mintz has already sent e-mails to the customs department in the Bahamas requesting permission to bring their new pets along on their journey.

Each member of the Mintz family keeps an online journal on the Reach the World Web site, a not-for-profit program dedicated to bringing travel and interculture experience to inner-city children.

At the end of their trip, Reach the World will fly them to Odessa, Texas, to share their stories with a public school class.

Tuesday, Alice baked a cake in the galley and brought it to the fire department as a gesture of gratitude for their rescue.

"They got us out of a pickle," Bill Mintz said.

335-6611, extension 245

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