Firstly, we would be honoured to provide our service of committing or scattering your loved ones ashes at sea. Especially as it is often their last wish.
Most services are carried out in the Spithead area, close to where the Mary Rose (Henry VIII flagship) wreck was discovered and raised. However, we can provide our services throughout the Solent area, in Portsmouth harbour, and we have even travelled as far the Nab Tower if your loved one wanted their ashes to be committed or scattered in the English Channel.
Collection of the mourners is from the Camber Docks in Old Historic Portsmouth, which is both easy to find and has ample parking.
We have two craft able to carry out a committal – Arkwright and Seamist. Seamist is normally available between April through to September, as it’s laid up in the winter months, and Arkwright is available at any time throughout the year.
Committal services are not restricted to persons who have had maritime careers, they can and do include enthusiasts who have not had any maritime connection by organisation or career. If required, more than one person’s ashes can be committed in a dedicated service.
The officers and crew are uniformed and have carried out many committal of ashes services for various denominations over the years and the service celebrant has many years’ experience conducting services. The service itself takes about 15 -20 minutes –an updated version of the traditional burial service at sea, or a humanitarian service, or it can be any service format that represents the religious and philosophical beliefs of the departed. The religious or non-religious service is uniquely written in memoriam to the loved one whose ashes are committed to the sea. Where possible they include information about the ships, Merchant Navy lines, yachts and maritime organisations that the departed served with, or related to, during their earthly life. Family wishes, regarding words and prayers they want included to the service can be accommodated. We normally Include to the service of choice, the famous sea poem ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield, however, this can be changed if required -in any event we can include if wanted additional appropriate poems of your choice in memory of the departed.
We provide a framed certificate signed by the celebrant in memoriam of the occasion and an additional signed certificate – more if requested. The certificate shows the latitude and longitude where the committal is carried out – this information can be input to Google to show the location.
There is no age restriction on Arkwright or Sea Mist, all (including youngsters) wear life jackets. We have a limit of 8 passengers on Arkwright and can take up to 12 on Seamist (excluding the crew). If the occasion demands both boats can be used for the one committal.
The crew have extensive experience of the nautical world – many being former Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel. The family, or those acting on behalf of the departed, don’t have to get any permissions to allow the committal, the MVS have guidance and permissions to the areas where committals can be conducted in the Solent area. We normally suggest the area close to where the Mary Rose foundered in the Spithead anchorage area, which is not too far from shore; about mid-way between the Portsmouth harbour and the Isle of Wight, however, we can deposit ashes at requested Latitude and Longitude locations mostly anywhere in the Solent area, out as far as the Nab Tower to the East and Needles lighthouse to the West, and south west of the Isle of Wight between Bembridge and Shanklin. The committal service itself is usually about 15 -20 minutes, though it can be longer depending upon your requirements for the service (songs, eulogy etc.). The journey out and back including the service can be as little as an hour or longer of course (upward of 3 hours) if the location requested is some distance away.
Family and friends party will be able to step directly on board Arkwright or Sea Mist from a landing stage in Camber Docks, Old Portsmouth. We can, if required, recommend hotels and B&B’s and will give directions on how to arrive at the Camber Docks area where we board the party. The satnav post code is PO1 2JL.
We operate Monday to Friday between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. but will arrange for a Saturday or a Sunday if that is the preferred option.
The crematorium provides a certificate with ashes urn – we just need to see it, we don’t need to keep it. Footwear and dress for the boat should be ‘sensible’, that is no high heeled shoes, no long dresses. For the ladies; jeans, slacks or trousers are recommended. Pictures and videos can be taken at any time during the committal event, and the crew will be happy to take pictures if requested. Some committal parties have brought wine or spirits to toast the departed – if that is the wish of the party we will, if required, supply disposable glasses.
We need a minimum of 10 days’ notice – though this might extend given the day requested falls within a busy committed period of activity. As you might expect the day and timing we can agree is ultimately dependent upon the weather and sea conditions – we maintain a constant weather watch and will advise in advance if we do not recommend proceeding as planned. You will be advised 48 – 36 hours prior if we decide the weather is unsuitable for us to proceed with the committal.
A standard screw top plastic urn is usually supplied after the cremation service and this can be brought so the ashes can be scattered in the sea. If sea and wind conditions, make scattering from a standard urn hazardous, we will recommend puncturing the urn so it can sink with respect – we will prepare the urn. It can otherwise be a scattering tube, a biodegradable ‘pillow shaped’ urn, or it can be in a casket. If it’s a casket the undertakers should provide such weighted or holed as required, however, to ensure it does meet the necessary specifications, such arrangement should be discussed with us before the casket is prepared. If requested the urn can be put to sea the from a platform (called a catafalque) covered with an appropriate flag, e.g. a union jack, St George’s flag, Merchant Navy Flag or a Royal Navy white ensign – as deemed appropriate in respect to your departed loved one.
Our craft will circle the area immediately following the service allowing time for private prayers and loving thoughts and to cast into the sea, as wanted, flowers or biodegradable wreaths, the playing of music etc. I can send examples of certificates provided if requested -one shows a traditional service summary, the other, a humanitarian service summary.
If the above is of interest, you may wish to see our testimonials page.
THE MARITIME VOLUNTEER SERVICE IS A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE NO. 3003565.
A REGISTERED CHARITY IN ENGLAND AND WALES NO. 1048454 AND IN SCOTLAND SC 039269