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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Funerals > Burials at Sea

Burials at Sea Cost


How Much Do Burials at Sea Cost?

 
low costUnattended Scattering of Ashes: $100-$400average costAttended Scattering of Ashes: $1,000-$5,000+high costFull-Body Burial: $5,000-$10,000+
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Burial at sea can be done by scattering cremated ashes on the water; submersing a biodegradable urn of ashes; or submersing a body contained in a specially designed shroud or casket. It is an ancient tradition, but there are a host of state and federal laws that govern this practice.

Typical costs:

  • Prices for full-body burial at sea by a private company start between $5,000 and $10,000 but increase depending on the length of the journey, number of passengers and any additional services (food, music, flowers, etc.). For example, NewEnglandBurialAtSea.com[1] offers a four- to six-hour trip on a 65-foot yacht starting at $7,500, plus a natural burial shroud for $750.
  • An unattended (no mourners allowed on the boat) scattering of ashes at sea by a private company can cost $100-$400, depending on location and options. Coastal Sunset Memorial[2] in Southern California offers an unattended scattering for $125, plus $75 for rose petals and $40 for a video; ABurialAtSea.com[3] in Maine offers an unattended scattering from a 35-foot yacht with a service/reading performed by the captain for $295; and Hawaii Ash Scatterings offers unattended scatterings from a surfboard, kayak or outrigger canoe for $295-$395.
  • Attended scatterings (with mourners on the boat) start around $250-$1,000 for up to 10 passengers, but can cost $1,000-$5,000 or more. SeaServices.com[4] estimates that a family service for a small group averages $550-$900 nationwide; and NewEnglandBurialsAtSea.com[5] provides two- to three-hour private scattering cruises for $1,500-$3,150 for 7-35 passengers.
  • California allows ashes to be scattered 500 yards from shore, meaning mourners can watch from shore while a boat or other vessel scatters the ashes. This can cost $150-$800 or more. AshesOnTheSea.com provides a video of scattering ashes from a surfboard[6] ($395) off Crystal Pier in San Diego, and APeacefulBurialAtSea.com[7] charges $600-$800 for scattering ashes from a boat while mourners watch from shore near Newport Harbor.
  • For $2,500-$6,500, EternalReefs.com[8] mixes ashes into concrete to create an artificial reef ball.
Related articles: Spreading Ashes, Cremation, Will, Funeral Service, Funeral

What should be included:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency[9] requires that a body in a casket or shroud be released at least three miles from shore and in water at least 600 feet deep; scattering ashes must be done at least three miles from shore (although there are exceptions in coastal areas under state jurisdiction).
  • All burials at sea must be reported within 30 days to the regional office of the EPA[10] within 30 days. A burial-at-sea company should handle the EPA paperwork as part of its basic service.
  • The Coast Guard provides a video of a typical ceremony[11] .
Additional costs:
  • It's customary to tip a boat crew after a trip; this is generally not included in the package price.
  • Most burial-at-sea packages do not include the cost of getting the ashes or body prepared and delivered to the ship, which in most cases is handled by a funeral home or mortuary. Funeral homes or mortuaries typically charge an additional $900-$2,200 to prepare and forward a casketed body to another funeral home or mortuary, and the receiving funeral home may charge $850-$2,200 for receiving a forwarded body. A simple direct cremation averages $1,000-$2,500 (see AA personalfinance.costhelper.com/cremation.html>How Much Does Cremation Cost); charges for embalming and preparing a casketed body can be $300-$1,100 (see How Much Does Embalming Cost); a casket (which must be strapped, drilled and weighted to make it sink properly) averages $1,000-$3,000 or more (see How Much Does a Casket Cost).
  • Biodegradable cremation urns designed to float briefly before sinking can cost $15-$400. AffinityCremation.com offers deep-water urns in a variety of shapes for $125-$325.
Discounts:
  • Charter fishing boat companies may offer ash scattering services for relatively low rates. For example, Riptide Sportfishing[12] near San Francisco provides an unattended scattering service for $50 and an attended service for up to 20 passengers for $255-$300.
  • The US Navy provides a free burial at sea[13] of either a casketed body or cremated ashes for members/retirees of all US military services, or for honorably discharged veterans or their dependents. Mourners cannot attend the burials, and some Navy ports only accept ashes. The burial is free, but there are other costs for getting the body or ashes prepared and to the ship. For example, VeteransFuneralCare.com[14] offers packages for arranging a Navy burial at sea for $1,335 for cremated ashes (including cremation) and $4,385 for a casketed body (including the casket).
  • The U.S. Coast Guard performs free burials at sea with cremated ashes, but eligibility and other details vary by the local Coast Guard office. For example, the Boston field office[15] will scatter ashes for any U.S. citizen who has never been convicted of a felony, and up to six mourners may be able to attend the service. Scheduling a Coast Guard burial at sea can take several weeks to a few months. For details, contact the Coast Guard district office[16] .
Shopping for burials at sea:
  • For an unattended burial at sea, ask how soon the service will be performed after the casketed body or ashes are received. For an attended burial at sea, ask detailed questions about what's included in the package price. Lists of companies are at CremationSolutions.com[17] .
  • Information about burial-at-sea options may also be available from a local nonprofit funeral or memorial society[18] (but be aware that some companies with "society" in their name are for-profit businesses).
  • Many funeral homes and mortuaries handle burial-at-sea arrangements. Search for local companies with the National Funeral Directors Association or the Selected Independent Funeral Homes[19] , or at TheFuneralSite.com.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.newenglandburialsatsea.com/burials-at-sea/
  2.  www.coastalsunsetmemorial.com/services.html
  3.  www.aburialatsea.com/pricing-options.htm
  4.  www.seaservices.com/scattering-ashes
  5.  www.newenglandburialsatsea.com/rates/
  6.  www.ashesonthesea.com
  7.  www.apeacefulburialatsea.com/shore.html
  8.  www.eternalreefs.com/
  9.  www.epa.gov/region02/water/oceans/burials.htm
  10.  www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/visiting-regional-office
  11.  cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=601067
  12.  ashesscattering.com/cost.htm
  13.  www.navy.mil/navydata/questions/burial.html
  14.  www.veteransfuneralcare.com/veteransfuneralhome/burialAtSea.cfm
  15.  www.uscg.mil/hswlBoston/military_funeral_honors.asp
  16.  www.uscg.mil/top/units/
  17.  www.cremationsolutions.com/Cremation-Scattering-Ashes-Services-and-Providers-c33.html
  18.  www.funerals.org/affiliates-directory
  19.  www.selectedfuneralhomes.org/
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