In some regards, a burial at sea is much like a conventional burial. There will be a service overseen by an efficient, mourners will gather and the body will be disposed of in a responsible manner. However, the big difference is, of course, that all of this will take place at sea. Usually, a boat is hired for the service but it is possible to stage a burial at sea with multiple smaller vessels. However, you cannot just take the body of a deceased person out to sea to bury it there. Like all funerals, there are certain regulations that need to be met. What are they?
- Applying for a Sea Burial
To begin with, you need to apply for a license to bury someone at sea. The death certificate will need to indicate that the body is suited to this sort of funeral. In short, this means it will have to be free of infections and any possible communicable diseases. When you register the death, you will need to inform the coroner's office that you intend on taking the body out of the mainland UK. Only once the coroner is satisfied will you be able to make the rest of the funeral arrangements.
- Where Can Burials at Sea Take Place?
In theory, sea burials are possible in any location in British waters so long as they are far enough away from the shore and avoid shipping lanes and fishing routes. However, the practical reality is that only certain sites are dedicated to this sort of burial. Tynemouth, Sussex and the Isle of Wight all have places suited to sea burials. If you want to bury your loved one in another location, then you will have to precisely describe the site's coordinates and provide evidence of its suitability.
- Preparing for the Burial
According to Newrest Funerals, a firm that helps people to arrange burials at sea throughout the UK, once permission has been granted, the next thing to do is to organize a coffin that is appropriate. There are some fairly regimented guidelines about what sort of coffin can be used for a burial at sea. Softwoods are recommended and there must be no plastic or certain types of metal, such as lead or zinc. Furthermore, the coffin has to be weighted so it will sink straight away and not float. Holes are also required so that the coffin will fill up with water. Usually, the coffin will be reinforced so it can cope with being loaded onto a boat and deposited into the sea. Bear in mind that preparing a body for a burial at sea also means having to conform to certain norms. Biodegradable clothing is recommended while no embalming is allowed, for example.
- Spreading Ashes at Sea
A viable alternative to the rules that surround sea burials is to cremate the body instead. Then, the ashes can be spread over the waves without having to worry about the location and other legal requirements. This option is a great deal cheaper, too.