How to Dress For a Burial at Sea
You find yourself in a conundrum, you’re planning a burial at sea memorial service or you’ve been invited to one and haven’t a clue what to wear. Well leave the little black dress, smart heels, suit and tie at home. Most memorials at sea are business or very casual. You want to dress for comfort and safety meaning NO high heels. The typical type of vessel you’ll be booked on will likely be used primarily for fishing, sightseeing or as a water taxi. That’s because these boats are Coast Guard inspected and affordable. Of course if you have several thousand dollars to plunk down on a luxury yacht anything can be arranged. Remember, you shouldn’t have to pay more to pay tribute.
Of course you’ll want to dress reverently for an ash-scattering ceremony, but it’s weather and ocean conditions that should dictate your attire. Expect the temperature to drop by at least 10 degrees F. (-12.222 C) and winds whilst en-route. Slacks or even jeans are permissible and do bring along sunscreen, and a wind breaker. Flats, sneakers or deck shoes are best. Being sure-footed is extremely important because ocean conditions can be unpredictable, a rogue wave or a high wake from another vessel can send you clutching for the nearest guard rail. Vessel boarding may bring you down a wood-planked dock, floating dock and larger vessels may have you board by stepping over the bow (front), across a gap between the steps and the bow. Boarding ramps are made of steel with horizontal strips for traction, but a misstep could be cause for a twisted ankle. Your captain and/or mate will help you and your guests board, but if there is anyone in your party with mobility issues, please advise the captain.
Know before you go - Keep an eye on the weather for your port of departure, I like to use NOAA, for both weather and ocean conditions. Light rain or the threat of a pop up shower shouldn’t impact your charter; however high winds, small craft advisories and storm conditions may. According to NOAA, small craft advisories are issued dependent on the geographical location, but generally wave heights of 4 to 7 feet could result in such a warning. Always check with your captain because his or her vessel may be very seaworthy. In addition, if you have a limited window of opportunity to perform the burial at sea, you may want to tough it out as one of my clients did. Out of the port of Miami the captain called to tell the family the wind was really kicking up and to postpone the charter for the next day. Unfortunately, the family traveled from various parts of the US and could only be there the one day. The captain agreed to take them out in spite strong warnings and advised them they would be uncomfortable. A few days later the family reported back that they had accomplished what they’d set out to do; they had a biodegradable urn which gets tossed overboard, so they didn’t need to worry about scattering ashes. With good humor my client reported that they were bounced about, laughing the whole time and miraculously no one became seasick.
If you would like to read more about Sea Sickness check out my blog post on the subject.
To learn more about scattering tubes and biodegradable urns, check out Nationwide Burial At Sea's urn store.