As cremations and customization trends continue to grow death care providers have an opportunity to provide a unique service to guests through ash scattering on the water. Lakes, rivers, and the sea offer a backdrop perfect for nature lovers, travelers, and adventure seekers who have passed.
Burials at sea: A Long standing tradition
Burials at sea are a tradition that have been performed since humans started sailing the seas. Ancient cultures like the Vikings, Greeks, Romans and more saw burials at sea as the most respectful and hygienic way a sailor could be buried. The remains were wrapped in a sailcloth, a prayer was shared and they were descended into the deep blue.
Today ́s water burial options
Today, a full body burial at sea service comes with new implications, costs, and logistical challenges. Which is why only a few specialized companies offer it as a service and it’s only available in seas and oceans. A full body burial requires a special casket with holes on the side (to allow for water to enter) and enforced weights to make sure that the casket sinks. For water lovers, ash scattering is a more economical and environmentally service option.
Ash scatterings services can also come with all kinds of customizations adapted to the family or deceased wishes such as doves, balloons, lanterns or butterfly releases. The way out and back can also be used as a reception time, with catering or a simple beverage offering.
What to expect on a burial at sea service
A family will join the boat crew at designated dock and board the boat to begin their mostly one hour service. Ash scatterings at sea in the United States needs to take place at least three nautical miles offshore, but this differs per country. Once the location of the burial is reached the captain will inform the family so that they can say their last goodbyes. Following the farewell, the ashes can be scattered in the family’s preferred method. The ashes can be directly laid into the water or some groups prefer to place biodegradable urns into the water.
One unique offering that can make burials at sea special is when some companies accompany the ash scattering by ending with a traditional sailor’s goodbye. Captain Geoffrey from Los Angeles Yacht Charter tells us that: “After the ashes are lowered into the ocean the captain will circle the ashes and ring a nautical bell (or blow the horn) three times to indicate that an important person has been sent on their final journey.¨ After the ceremony the captain will return to the shore.
Offering burial and scattering services on the water
Adding burials at sea to your offerings is a great way to diversify and provide new and exciting opportunities to meet families needs. Keep in mind the following tips when looking to find a partner who can accommodate your clientele.
Coast guard certification
When looking to collaborate with a burial at sea provider be sure to connect with a commercial company that is coast guard certified, yacht rental companies who operate year round are safe bets to work with. This certification guarantees the safety of the vessels providing the services and the seriousness of the provider. While there are many ‘captains’ with boats, it’s important to protect your clients and business, as unlicensed captains and uncertified boats can have very top of the line websites, but they may not be legally allowed to operate burials at sea and in case of emergency no insurance would cover the damages or losses incurred during a burial at sea on an uncertified boat.
Costs of ash scattering at sea
The costs of ash scattering at sea can range anywhere from $700,- up to $3000,- depending on the group size, the season, the size of the boat, the type of boat being used, and the charter company. Yachts tend to carry groups of 6, 12 or 20, anything larger would need a party boat.There are also unattended services (which are very economic) for families who want to do a water scattering, but aren’t able to join.
Account for any extra ́s
Before a service is booked it’s important to know what costs are included. Some burial at sea providers have an all inclusive price and others might charge extra for gas, dock pick-up fees, credit card fees, florals and extra staffing.
Paperwork needed for ash scattering at sea
As Funeral directors know, there is also always paperwork involved. In the USA to dispose of human remains it is required to acquire a certificate for the disposition of human remains, to be picked up at the vital records office in the county were the ashes will be spread.