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A Family Dedicated to the Float Your Boat Program

Updated: Jun 27

Submitted by Captain Kenneth Boda of the US Coast Guard Healy and his son, Patrick from Northern Middle School, Owings, Maryland

Captain Boda on October 2, 2022 at the North Pole
Captain Boda on October 2, 2022 at the North Pole with crew mates deploying wooden boats; photo by Leonard Sussman.

One of the sacrifices that military families face are long separations during deployments around the world. While this can be challenging for families, they are proud of their service to advancing the security and interests of the United States. The Bodas are a Coast Guard family that have been involved with the Float Your Boat program in both preparing boats and delivering them to the ice. 

Patrick Boda is a sixth grader at Northern Middle School in Owings, Maryland. He is in Mr. Bryan Kelsey’s science class and created his second model for the Float Your Boat program this past year. He prepared his first boat a couple of years ago when he lived in Bellevue, Washington. His father, Kenneth Boda, delivered that boat to an ice floe in the Arctic.

Kenneth is a Captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, and a career icebreaker sailor. He was the Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, and in the summers of 2021 and 2022, he brought Float Your Boat models to the high Arctic. Kenneth has always been fascinated by Arctic science. He studied Marine and Environmental Sciences at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and earned a master’s degree in Physical Oceanography from Columbia University. He also served as a Marine Science instructor at the Coast Guard Academy. As his operational specialty, Kenneth has served eight years aboard Coast Guard icebreakers. He has traveled to the Arctic six times, the Antarctic five times, and sailed to all seven continents.

“I learned about the Float Your Boat program from David Forcucci, a Coast Guard colleague of mine who would schedule science operations for icebreakers,” said Kenneth. “Dave is one of the founders of Float Your Boat and gave me a boat for my son after I took command of Healy. That year, before transiting the Northwest Passage above Canada, we deployed the boats on an ice floe in the Beaufort Sea off of the North Slope of Alaska.”

Patrick does not remember too much about his first boat. His dad took command of the ship in June and departed for a five month Arctic deployment just three weeks later. During that short time they moved into their new house, got familiar with the neighborhood, and prepared for Kenneth to leave. Patrick used markers to decorate the boat. “That time was very busy, and I don’t remember too much about that model” says Patrick.

Kenneth Boda family

After his assignment aboard the icebreaker, the Boda family moved to Maryland when Kenneth was transferred to a job at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC. This was Patrick’s fifth move in his twelve years! Patrick came home from his new middle school and told his dad that Mr. Kelsey’s science class was going to do “Float Your Boat”. Patrick told his teacher that his dad actually has delivered those boats to the Arctic aboard an icebreaker.* 

“Patrick has inherited my love of science and was looking forward to a dedicated science class. I was able to meet Mr. Kelsey during ‘meet the teacher’ night and explain my connection to Float Your Boat. This is a fantastic program to connect young people to the cutting-edge climate research happening in the Arctic. My second summer aboard Healy, we brought scientists to the North Pole - that was the first time in my career I had been there, so it was a big highlight. We arrayed the boat models to spell out ’90 degrees north’ to mark the top of the world!”

Crew from the Healy on October 2, 2022 at the North Pole deploying Float Your Boat boats forming the shape 90° N; photos by Leonard Sussman.

The Boda family continues to follow the progress of the boats they prepared, and deployed, to the Arctic. “I hope my boats get washed up onto a beach one day and found by someone”, says Patrick. Kenneth agrees. “The Float Your Boat models, and the ice drifter buoys we place with them, provide information on ice floes and Arctic currents, which have been changing as temperatures in the high latitudes increase. There is great scientific value to this Arctic science, as we discover the interconnectedness of the Arctic and mid-latitude climate.”

The Boda family really enjoyed the opportunity to connect Kenneth’s career with Patrick’s education in the Float Your Boat program. “I spent a lot of time preparing this year’s boat,” says Patrick. “This is a very cool experience that not many kids have. You can really participate in global climate research firsthand as a middle school student. I enjoy the Float Your Boat program and respect how it brings kids into cutting edge science research.”

*It was not coordinated with Captain Boda that Patrick's class would participate in Float Your Boat. Rather it all happened by chance due to teachers Tom Harten and Bryan Kelsey who have been participating in this program for a couple years. See last year's class blog from Mr. Harten's classes.


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