Frequently Asked Questions

Burial at Sea

Can anyone be buried at sea?
Yes, anyone, civilian and former military may be buried at sea.  This includes cremated remains - ash scattering & full body burials. 

Where can ash scattering services take place?
Ash scattering as it pertains to Burial at Sea takes place 3 nautical miles from land.  

How long does it take?
The average burial at sea for cremated remains ranges from 1 to 2 hours depending on the port.  This includes the time to get to the site of of the memorial service and back to port.

What if I get sea sick?
Sea Sickness or motion sickness can affect anyone.  There are preventative measures one can take, such as keeping your eye on the horizon.  Check out my blog on Sea Sickness for helpful hints.

Do I Need a Special Urn or Container?

It's advisable to use a scattering urn or biodegradable urn. The typical container provide by the funeral home is known as the temporary container with the cremated remains in a plastic bag. Scattering directly out of the bag is cumbersome offering little control over the flow. Selecting an urn to either scatter from or place in the water will provide for a more ceremonial aspect to your service.

Should I Tip the Captain?
Generally a tip to the captain is not necessary, however if there is a mate on board then a tip is in order.  A good tip is $20.00 to one mate or $10.00 if there are two mates.  If you're hosting a much larger group which includes catering ask your captain.

What Kind of Boat Will I Be On?
The standard type of vessel used for Burial at Sea is a commercial sight-seeing, fishing, water  or scuba diving boat.  This is because they are Coast Guard inspected for safety and very affordable.  Larger vessels equipped for catering events such as weddings and other celebrations typically don't go out into the ocean because of glassware on board.  That said there are beautiful smaller yachts available, however expect to pay a bit more

Will the Captain Officiate the Ceremony?
In most cases, no.  The captain's role is to maintain the safe navigation of the vessel but he or she will help you with the scattering and other matters while on board.  See next question, Who Officiates the Ceremony?

Who Officiates the Burial at Sea Ceremony?
This depends if you're planning a religious service or if there's been a formal memorial and church service.  


For those who've already had a formal service the burial at sea is generally casual. Readings and prayers can be read, a moment of silence or sharing your favorite story or memory.


If a religious ceremony is in order, it's recommended you invite your priest or minister to officiate.  Note - Clergy are considered passengers.


If you have any questions, do feel free to email

What if it Rains?
Light rain or the threat of a pop up shower shouldn't interfere with your service, however thunderstorms, high winds or any small craft advisories may lead to a cancellation.  Your captain will reschedule with you.


If for any reason you can not reschedule consider leaving the cremated remains being with your captain for an Unattended Service.  Your captain will work out the details with you.

Do I Need a Special Permit or File With the EPA?
The only state that requires a permit is California and not in all counties.  Reporting to the EPA is very easy and you have 30 days.  Read more  in my blog - Scattering Ashes and Reporting to the EPA.

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