Nautical Funerals

A funeral at sea

Whether it was a sailor’s life for you, or you simply enjoyed a holiday on the coast, a nautical-related funeral service may be what you’re after.

Where can I do it?

The appeal of the sea lies in its vastness. It’s a never-ending source of adventure and opportunity but, unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to be buried wherever you want.  

There are quite strict restrictions on how and where you can be buried at sea. In the UK, there are three suitable sites available.

They’re at Newhaven in East Sussex, The Needles Spoil Ground near the Isle of Wight and near Tynemouth, Northumberland. More information about the sites and requirements can be found here.

While it doesn’t cost anything to be buried at sea, you do need to pay for an ‘at sea burial license’ from the MMO (Marine Management Organisation), which costs £50.

You can apply to be buried at other sites in England, but the application goes through rigorous consideration and it costs £175. The three suggested sites have been chosen because of their characteristics. For example, distance from the shore, the lack of use by fishermen and their weak currents. You wouldn’t want anything getting washed up.

Getting a boat for the ceremony

There are specific boat chartering companies that will go to the designated sea burial sites. 

Also, if it isn’t a big boat, not many people will be able to watch the service. You must also consider the time it will take to get to each site, and if the weather is bad, you might be left high and dry.

There are also strict guidelines on the type of coffin that can be used in a sea burial: the coffin has to be biodegradable. 

Price for a burial at sea including the chartering of a boat and crew, fuel, license and coffin: £4,000+

You can, however, charter your own boat or anyone that takes your fancy. As long as it can fit more than four people on it (minimum number of people required to be on a boat with a coffin) and room for the coffin lowering device

Price for a burial at sea, using your own boat and crew. Only having to pay for coffins, fuel and license: £200 – £500

Staying afloat for the wake

A popular cost-effective choice is to have an outdoor, coastal funeral. Like any sort of service you would have in a venue, but with the backdrop of the deceased’s favourite ocean. Then, treat the departure of the boat as the burial and have a wake wherever you normally would. A wake can easily be held at a nearby relatives house, which is a good way to keep costs down, as is doing the catering yourself.

Outdoor ceremony with a wake at home: £0-£150

For those with a need to be more extravagant then why not have the whole celebration aboard a boat? Many docked ships can be hired for functions. Or, go all the way and charter a superyacht for a wake. While it’s not cheap, it certainly can make for an unforgettable way to celebrate someone’s life. Chartering yachts would include having to hire a crew which, as well as onboard catering, can jack the prices up a lot. It is also likely that there is a minimum amount of hours you have to be onboard for.

Chartering a private yacht and crew with onboard catering: £10,000+


If you don’t want to surrender your whole body to the briny depths then why not have a part of it made into a memorial reef? Cremated ashes can be added to a reef which is placed in the sea creating a rich and diverse ecosystem for sea life. The UK based company, Solace Reef, will create a ‘solace stone’ which gets dropped into the ocean and becomes home and haven to numerous marine species. The ceremony will play out the same as if you were burying a body at sea but with more flexibility in terms of location and times.

The cost of a solace stone ceremony and up to twelve family members: £3200