The San Diego Burial at sea tradition has become more and more popular in recent years. Rather than having a traditional funeral, many people are opting instead to lay their loved ones’ bodies or ashes to rest in the ocean. People are seeking out new, memorable experiences, and a memorial at sea is something that you, your family and friends will never forget.

If you don’t have your own boat, you can charter a yacht or sailboat here in San Diego to take you out into the Pacific to say your last farewells. Here’s everything you need to know about this special funeral format:

What is a burial at sea?

A burial at sea is a funeral ceremony that takes place on a boat out on the open ocean. It is performed regularly in the United States Navy and is growing in popularity among private citizens. A person’s body or ashes are released into the water during the ceremony.

Is it legal to dump a body into the sea?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permits funeral ceremonies to be performed at sea. You’ll need to report the burial to the EPA within 30 days of the memorial taking place. Your yacht charter company may be able to take care of this for you so that you don’t have to worry about it after the funeral.

Do you need any special permits or licenses to have a burial at sea? 

No, the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act includes provisions allowing for private citizens to conduct memorials at sea. You do not need to obtain any documentation in advance. You just need to file your EPA report within 30 days.

Is there a religious component to the ceremony? 

That is entirely up to you. Some charter yacht companies may offer pastors, rabbis or other religious celebrants among their services, while others may not. In those cases, you’ll typically be allowed to bring one as one of your guests.

How many guests can come to the memorial? 

The answer to this question will depend on the type and size of boat you charter. A large yacht may be able to transport upwards of 20 people, while a small sailboat may only be able to carry 5. Your San Diego yacht charter company will be able to guide you in choosing the most appropriate boat to meet your needs.

Is a burial at sea expensive? 

As with any style of funeral, costs can span a wide range. How much yours will cost depends largely on the options that you choose, although, in general, a burial at sea tends to be less expensive than a traditional land-based funeral and interment. In planning your San Diego burial at sea, look for a charter company that has plenty of options for you to choose from so that you can focus your budget dollars on the areas that are most important to you and your loved ones.

Will I be sailing the boat myself? 

Most charter companies will include a ship captain in the charter package. This way, you can focus on mourning with your loved ones, rather than on sailing the boat. If you do wish to sail the boat yourself, you may need to verify with the charter company that they allow this; not all will. The charter company may require you to pay a refundable security deposit if you wish to take the boat out on your own.

Do my guests and I need any special safety training? 

Any reputable San Diego boat charter company should provide any and all safety training you’ll need. Charters are accessible to anyone, even children, so don’t worry if you have never been on a boat before. Life jackets will be provided, and the staff will be well-versed in safety precautions.

Can we have a wake on board the boat after the burial at sea? 

This will depend on your particular charter company. Some may be able to provide catering services, including a bartender. Check with the company you choose to see if this is an available option. They may also be able to provide sound and video capabilities, massage services or other amenities.

Can I have a burial at sea for my pet? 

No, the MPRSA general permit only applies to human remains, not animal.

Can I release any other items along with my loved one’s remains? 

No, the MPRSA does not allow anything other than the remains to be included in the burial at sea. This means that you cannot dump wreaths, headstones, artificial flowers, memorabilia or other items during the ceremony. Anything that you put into the water needs to be decomposable in the marine environment so as not to cause any harm to fish, reefs and other ocean life.

How far in advance do I need to reserve the charter?

This is understandably a difficult question, especially if you are not cremating the body. Time is of the essence in planning and executing the memorial in this case. Most charter companies will recognize that and do their best to accommodate your needs as quickly as possible. If you will be scattering ashes, on the other hand, you’ll have a bit more flexibility in choosing the date for your San Diego memorial at sea.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Here at Adventuress Luxury Catamaran, we are proud to include burials at sea among our services. We are happy to help out our clients during this difficult time in their lives. Our yacht captains and crew members are all expert sailors and will keep you and your loved ones safe while at sea. We provide a number of ancillary services for you to choose from as well, including catering, religious and secular celebrants, A/V services and more.

If you have any questions that weren’t already answered here, our associates would love to discuss them with you. We’ll offer our advice and guidance to help you make the most of your burial at sea. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our San Diego burials at sea.