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  • Writer's pictureDona Capara

Oh Captain, My Captain

With Spring upon us, the Northeast and Mid Atlantic States are getting ready for the boating season; gearing up and getting everything ship shape. Many will have fresh paint, new engines and most importantly, will be Coast Guard-inspected for safety.

All of our captains are licensed, insured and have many years experience navigating. It’s our relationship with these fine men and woman that benefit our clients in ways they may not even realize. For example, we have a family traveling by car from several distant locations for a funeral at sea, and spending the evening in town isn’t possible. Because of our rapport with Captain Nick, he’s moving some charters around to allow for a 1:00 PM departure, giving the family enough time to get there and drive home the same day. This happens to be prime time, when our captains require a 4-hour minimum to book, and yet this family will only be on board 2 hours.

The role of the captain during an ash scattering service varies depending on the size of the vessel. With a larger vessel, he or she won’t leave the wheel house because their main role is to maintain the safe navigation of the vessel. Keeping an eye out for other boat traffic, ocean currents and the rare but possible rogue wave. Large vessels will have one or two mates to assist with getting passengers on board and off the boat safely. Mates will keep everyone comfortable and assist in every way during the funeral at sea departure.

A major misconception when it comes to boat captains is the expected uniform, a-la The Love Boat. The captains of larger luxury vessels may wear a white collared shirt with a buttoned down shoulder lapels, while most captains simply wear a polo shirt. Mates will likely wear a boat issued tee shirt.

One might question, “Who will officiate and scatter the ashes?” Today, while some choose to bring a priest or clergy person to officiate, it's usually the family that writes the script of how the service is to proceed. Prayer and readings are often a component of the memorial at sea, but because the service is casual by setting, it beckons a more familiar approach. Sharing favorite memories is a popular addition to any memorial ash scattering service. Regarding who will scatter the ashes? It’s usually a family member, but if asked the captain or mate will do it.

Smaller vessels such as six passenger (6 pack) allows the captain to become more involved and, while not officiating, can and will guide you in the process of scattering the ashes. If requested, he or she will oblige and read a prayer. One of our captains plays Amazing Grace on bagpipes which is always so well received.

Captains will try to make your burial at sea charter comfortable and memorable. Our captain from Maui will pick fresh tropical flowers from her garden to toss into the water after the scattering of ashes. She too will accommodate a family's scheduling needs and recently agreed to take a family out for an ocean memorial on Easter Sunday.

The willingness of these fine folks to go above and beyond for our clients deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated. Rest assured that our trusted captains will provide a memorable and safe journey for your loved one's at-sea funeral.

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