Burials at Sea Memorial Services
"Dear Pat, On behalf of my family, I would like to again thank you for the service you provided for the scattering of the ashes of my Uncle Joseph. We were blessed by your compassion and professionalism. Thanks for serving so many-especially our vets-with this wonderful experience. May God richly bless you in the days to come! Pastor Mark. Chaplain (Col) (Retired) USAFR."
Please thoroughly read each page to fully understand what we do and how we are supported. The Last Watch is a non-profit public benefit charitable trust. By definition, we are not a commercial business. We have been granted this status and are registered as a non-profit charitable trust by the Attorney General, Department of Justice, Secretary of State, and Department of Consumer Affairs.
We serve the general public as well as the Military and perform our services every day of the week and all times of the day. We do this simply because we value what is convenient for you and your party. There are never increased costs of any kind. We also provide free food, drinks, flowers, and Professional Photography. That is our way of saying,” We really care about you!”
Mr. O'Connor has been a boat owner since 1969, has worked for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and has received medals and letters of commendation from three Presidents of the United States. He regularly serves as a Missionary and is an Ordained Minister and Classical Guitarist. We would like to say that you are ‘in good hands’ when you are talking with us. We make the promise that our ceremony will be the most loving, beautiful, peaceful, and meaningful burial at sea service that is offered by anyone in loving respect and honor for your loved one.
We all shop wisely for what we need, but please be very careful: Ask yourself, "Am I really getting what I truly desire in a loving and honorable tribute for my loved one?" The Angel's Ashes strives to be the best and guarantees you that you that you will love our boat, the crew, and the experience. Several items will be very important to you as you make your calls to various agencies: 1. Cost-do you charge more on weekends and holidays? Are there other costs? Do you charge for food? Drinks? Professional Photography? Flowers? We never would accept any monies for any of these items and believe it is very inappropriate.2. How are we protected from the elements? What is the seating like? The ‘Orion’ is extremely comfortable and well appointed. You will never be wet, cold, hot, or exposed to the elements whether sun or rain. We have seating on three decks: the upper fly bridge, aft deck, and the main salon.3. How many engines does your boat have and how is it maintained? This may seem like an odd concern, but we have done many funerals because of cancellations by the company providing the service for the supposed reason that their engine had broken down. We have 2 engines, maintain our vessel at the highest standards, have never had a cancellation and are very proud of that. Obviously, being called by a company 2 days before the funeral is quite disconcerting and an emotional and financial disaster.4. A very important question would be about their licensing for it is well known by the USCG that many services are not legal or approved by the governing body, the USCG. At this very moment they are cracking down on all illegal operations and well they should because it directly affects your safety as a passenger on a vessel. We have gone through the expensive and exhausting process of being proper licensed and has met all USCG and State requirements.
In each ceremony along with the scattering of ashes, we provide everything for you. There is no charge to you for full memorial planning, grief counseling, roses and rose petals decorating the basket with the ashes, individual roses for all in attendance, food, drinks, and free Professional Photography. As a non-profit business, we provide as much as we can simply because we care about you. We are very sensitive to the fact that this may be a time that is very difficult for you and want to do everything we can to help.
Some families have asked me to deliver the eulogy and to provide the entire Memorial Service at a church or special place. Anything can be arranged. We often help with restaurant planning, making arrangements for an Honor Guard, and helping you select a bagpiper. We also take care of the paper work and write letters to the Crematorium and Mortuary.
The exact burial location is recorded with the coordinates of latitude and Longitude. You will receive a beautiful Memorial Certificate to mount on a wall or keep for your records. It is quite common for families to return to this location at a future date.
Burials at sea can be divided into two different categories:
- Burials at Sea - Unattended Memorial Services
- Burials at Sea-Attended Memorial Services
In the two unattended memorial services we offer, family members do not accompany us when we scatter the ashes into the ocean. We are a very unique company in the way we handle this as the loving honor given to the deceased is never compromised. The entire ceremony takes place at a burial site selected for beauty, calm waters, and little boating traffic. We always photograph the ceremony, accompany the ashes with roses and rose petals, and say a prayer. You will be provided with a letter describing the ceremony and a Memorial Certificate with the exact coordinates of Latitude and Longitude where the ashes were scattered. In addition, we send letters to the Crematorium and Mortuary and file the legal paper work with the appropriate Health Departments.
a. Multiple scattering of ashes
Mr. O'Connor makes arrangements with a Crematorium or Mortuary to pick up multiple sets of ashes or has them delivered to him. We are especially unique in the way we handle the actual day of the ceremonies as we treat it no differently than if family members were on board. In honor and love for the deceased, we go to different locations and hold a special ceremony for each individual. We say a prayer and sprinkle the ocean with flowers as each set of ashes is lowered by a basket into the ocean. The exact location (Coordinates of Latitude and Longitude) is recorded with a letter and Memorial Certificate sent to the Crematorium or Mortuary who in turn sends them to the surviving family member listed on the Permit. We take pride in the fact that we do this every day of the week and do not delay the actual scattering of ashes or the sending out of the Certificates and letters. We guarantee all of the Crematoriums and Mortuaries that we will scatter the ashes either that day or the very next day that they are in our possession and mail the Certificates and letters the day after that. The Crematoriums and Mortuaries have expressed great comfort in our promptness as they can in turn comfort the families who are anxious for this closure.
Read more about Burials at Sea- Multiple Scattering of Ashes >>
b. Single scattering of ashes
Family members meet with us or we receive a single set of ashes in the mail. We then go out to sea to perform a private ceremony. Pictures of the event are emailed to the family member if requested. A letter describing the ceremony and a Memorial Certificate with the exact coordinates of Latitude and Longitude where the ashes were scattered is then mailed to the family member. The Crematorium and the Mortuary also receive letters describing the ceremony. Then the Application and Permit to Dispose of Human Remains document is mailed to the appropriate Health Departments. It is a very special ceremony of loving tribute to the loved one.
2. Burials at Sea-Attended Memorial Service
a. View from a Pier
We begin the day by meeting with you and your family and guests at a park next to my boat. There, I give you free roses, food, and drinks. Often families also ask for me to take pictures. In turn, you give me the ashes and any paper work necessary for filing.
Then you and your party will drive to the designated pier, park, and walk to the end of the pier. You will select a specific location on the pier where you are most comfortable.
I will be along shortly after you arrive, wave to you, and position the boat for the best viewing of the ceremony. I then perform the scattering of ashes, take lots of pictures, and then slowly move away so that you can have your private time.
We will be sending you a Memorial Certificate with the exact coordinates of Latitude and Longitude where the ashes were entered into the sea along the pictures. You will love this ceremony especially from your vantage point for viewing the entire service. And, no one is sea sick!
Read more about our Burials at Sea- View from a Pier >>
b. View from a boat
This is a very special way to perform a burial at sea. As long as no one gets sea sick, then memories of this event will last a life time! We try to make it especially memorable by having you decorate the basket containing the ashes and often, participate in the actual lowering of the basket.
We keep a sharp ‘look-out’ for sea life and frequently visit the sea lions and play with the dolphins. Everyone loves this!
The ashes are lowered from the Aft Deck when the timing seems appropriate. This frequently follows a memorial talk, the sharing of stories, and prayers. Everything is custom designed by you and discussed with us in the planning stages. We do everything we can to make this occasion especially wonderful and loving.
The final act on our part is to circle the flowers and ashes then very slowly depart for our voyage home. For Military burials, we ring the ship’s bell 8 times to signify ‘The Last Watch’. The entire event takes approximately 2 hours.
Please read through the Advantages of a View from the Pier service over a View from a Boat. Many have a 'vision' of being on a boat out at sea and how beautiful that experience would be. It is a great 'vision', but not necessarily accurate and as wonderful for some people... For example, someone invariably gets sea sick because most of us are 'land lubbers'. Also poor sea conditions can dramatically alter the experience including a possible cancellation or postponement. For those traveling from out of state or from a ‘distance’, that can create quite a problem. This does not happen when you are viewing from a pier.
Read more about our Burials at Sea Multiple Scattering of Ashes >>
For the State of California, the Secretary of State and Attorney General, Department of Justice, and Department of Consumer Affairs have awarded a non-profit, public benefit, charitable trust designation to The Last Watch Foundation to provide funeral services to help the Military and their families. We are the only organization in the United States to be awarded this honor. The State has also given us license to perform the scattering of ashes at sea. If a donation to The Last Watch is ever received, those funds are deposited directly into The Last Watch Foundation.