As inclusive and informative as we try to be, there will always be questions: We want you to call us at any time to ask your specific questions and to clarify anything that might seem vague. We are available every day up into the early evening hours. Always feel free to ask any question that comes to mind. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions:
The most important consideration when you select a company is to find out if they are licensed by the State of California to scatter ashes at sea, if they are USCG certified to carry passengers, and are they operating a legal charter. When you have determined that they are a legal charter, licensed, and certified by the USCG, then ask many questions such as the following:
1. Are your services only for the Military?
No, they are for everyone. If you make a donation above our costs, then that goes directly for the Military funerals.
2. For the Military burials-at-sea, can you make the Honor Guard arrangements?
Yes, but we help you: We direct you to them so that you can work out all the details. Please allow them some time to get their crew together.
3. Where do you operate out of?
We are based in Long Beach so recommend that you choose this harbor for your funeral. As we are a non-profit, are costs are less thus, so are yours. We like to see everyone save money where possible! The good part of this is that I believe Long Beach is the best of all the harbors for burials-at-sea. We also go out of San Pedro and Catalina Island.
4. What does it cost?
Cost is relative to several factors: Where we do the funeral, which options you choose, how many people on the boat? Other factors are Attended or Unattended. The View-from-the Pier option. Anything special that you would like?
A View-from-a-Pier in Long Beach, for example is $500; 1-6 passengers-$695; 7-12 passengers-$795. Other ports are more costly. All funerals include free food, drinks, roses, a Memorial Certificate, and the mailing of all paper work and letters to the Health Department, Mortuary, and Crematory. If you receive quotes from other companies lower than these, beware. Remember, we make no profit; all other companies have to make a profit. There are many illegal charter companies which are not licensed by the State to scatter ashes or certified by the USCG to carry passengers.
5. How do I do this?
Please read through our web site then call us so that we can help you and take you through all of the steps. Please read our page on Planning.
6. How do we get the payment to you?
We want to simplify everything. On each page of our web site is a yellow ‘Donate’ button. Just click on this and it will take all of your information. This is very private and secure. If you prefer mailing us a check, arrangements can be made for that. Everything is made out to The Last Watch.
7. Would it be possible to meet with you?
Sure. Just call and we will make the arrangements.
8. Which pier do we go to if we select this option?
The Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier in Long Beach.
9. How do we get the ashes to you?
We will have a specific meeting place before the funeral. Legally, they can also be mailed to me. Some Mortuaries and Crematoriums chose to deliver the ashes to my home. I also can pick up the ashes in certain circumstances.
10. Are there other costs?
No. Everything is inclusive. Weekends, holidays, time of day never factor into our costs. We are quite aware that we are one of the only organizations that practices this way. We believe very strongly in abiding by the laws and in trying to help you in every way possible. We also believe in giving to you as many free things as possible.
11. What if it rains? Can we cancel?
Yes, but there would be no refund. Postponement is a more viable option. Rain is rarely a factor and we do need at least a couple of days’ notice because we are already incurring costs and have blocked others from scheduling that day. We will do everything we can to accommodate you.
12. What type of food and drinks do you provide? If we don’t want any will it be cheaper?
Light snacks such as cookies, breakfast breads and drinks such as ice water, sodas, ice tea. Everything is free so no, the cost isn’t any less. You are allowed to bring other items if discussed with us.
13. Where is the funeral performed and how far do we go out to sea?
We go out of Long Beach, San Pedro, and Catalina Island. We discuss this with you in the planning stages and always try to honor your wishes. Some decisions are made as we leave the harbor the day of the funeral. Sea conditions and weather play an important part in your safety and these decisions. We also must abide by the laws and are required to be a minimum of 500 yards from any shoreline.The time at sea varies because of these factors. At times when we see some whales or sea lions, we may be out there a little longer for your enjoyment.
14. How long will it take?
You should plan on approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours for we do not want anyone to feel ‘rushed’ and want it to be a great experience. View-from-a-pier will lend more towards 1 1/2 hours. We will honor your wishes should you chose to spend less time on the sea. When planning a luncheon afterwards, we ask you to plan about two hours and will help you with the reservation.
15. How big is the boat? Is it nice?
‘Orion’ is 40’ and is absolutely beautiful. Make sure you tell her that! Please look at the pictures in the picture gallery. She is immaculately maintained with custom features everywhere! She is well appointed and extremely comfortable. You will love her and will be very proud that you chose us for your special day.
16. How do you handle the ashes?
Typically, we put the ashes in a lined basket with a cover and have you decorate it with roses and rose petals. Then, we gently lower the basket into the water. We then take the basket deeper, and tilt the basket releasing the ashes. You then will see what is referred to as the ‘Ash Cloud’. It is a beautiful and moving experience. Anything can be customized though! Other cultures at times choose a different method if we can accommodate their wishes.
17. Can you handle more than 1 set of ashes and what does that cost?
Yes we can and there is no additional cost. Conjoining husband and wife is often desired. We can also use 2 baskets. Again, we believe very strongly in not trying to create ways to charge you more!
Mortuaries often ask these questions:
a. What do you charge for unattended scatterings?
We want you to discuss the cost with us so that we can agree on a price that is most comfortable for you. We promise you the best service, the most prompt service, and the most professional and inclusive service. Typically, most organizations like to pay us around $50
b. What can we tell the families as to when the ashes will be scattered?
They will be scattered either the day or the day after I receive them. We go out every day of the week. Mailings to you will also be done the very next day.
c. Do you provide us with the coordinates? Yes. That very day of the burial, I compose a letter to the family, and print a beautiful Memorial Certificate that contains the exact time, Latitude, and Longitude of the chosen place for the scattering-of-ashes. That is then mailed to you.
d. How do we get the ashes to you? Some organizations deliver them to me and for some organizations I can pick them up. We discuss what works best for the both of us.
19. Can you accommodate the elderly? The Handicapped? Children?
Yes. This is discussed with you in the planning stage. You will find that we are one of the only companies that will do this. In these situations, you may want to strongly consider the View-from-a-Pier option for ease, safety, and enjoyment.
20. I see that you are an Ordained Minister. Do you provide your service for all religions?
Yes. We respect everyone and have had many funerals with Catholic priests, Monks, Hindu priests on board. Everyone’s practices and customs are honored. A non-religious or multi-denominational ceremony is also quite common.
21. What is your cancellation policy?
When you have made a firm decision to book a reservation, we urge you to please not cancel. A lot of work, time, and expense on our part on the very first day of the booking, makes it impossible to give you a refund. Please understand this as we are a non-profit charitable trust. It will help all of us if you postpone a date because of weather or family reasons rather than cancel.