“We have never done this before and know very little about burials-at-sea, but my father died last week and requested that his ashes be scattered at sea. Can you help us and take us through the process?”
Sound familiar? Well, let us begin by doing everything we can to help you and answer all of your questions.
At the very beginning of a conversation, we are often greeted by, “Wow! Thank you for taking my call. “Everyone I’ve tried to talk to has been ice-cold, barely speaks to me, and don’t help me at all. That is, if they ever bother to answer my call or call me back.”
It’s sad in this industry but I think it is suffice to say, that what we see on a regular basis is that very few people really care. On top of that, knowing full well that you are in a vulnerable state, they take advantage of you.
By calling us you’ve already noticed the difference in that we do care, and will help you in every way possible. Of course, we will take your call and give you all the time you need.
Our Burial at Sea Planning Process
So, let me guide you through the process by beginning with some ‘Heads Up’ information and things to be on the watch for. This should be for every company you check out as you do due diligence in ‘shopping around’ for what is best for you:
Take a step back and focus on the fact that this is the boating industry. The ocean can be a very dangerous place and because of that many regulations are put into effect by the United States Coast Guard and Marina operations personnel for your Safety. The ocean is closely patrolled by USCG, Police Department, Life Guards, and Patrol Boats.
When hiring a Charter Boat Company please be very careful. Without realizing it, you can inadvertently put you, your family, and your friends in great danger. Here is what you need to know particularly in the waters of LA Harbor/Long Beach:
- The Web Site. Is there one? How does it look to you? Professional?
- The USCG regularly checks web sites for illegal operations. There are numerous illegal charter businesses out there, believe me. If there is no web site, guess what? They are hiding, operating an illegal business, hoping not to get caught. What is at stake for you? How about your life! It is so dangerous and so illegal, but very cheap for them and thus, very profitable. Is risking your life worth trying to save a few bucks? I hope not.
- A poor web site may be an indication that they are not a very good business, don’t maintain their vessel, again, affecting your safety. I have been called by parties that showed up at a decrepit vessel and refused to board. It does happen!
- Vessel location. This is the easiest way to tell whether the company you are talking to is operating legally or not. Very simple. Just ask where the boat is docked. Here is the give-away: In Long Beach, a legal charter has to be located in Rainbow Harbor! When they tell you that they are launching their boat or that vessel is located elsewhere, or they will be picking you up then they are not operating a legal business. That should end your search of that company.
- Place of passenger pick-up. In Long Beach, all passengers for-hire must board the charter vessel in Rainbow Harbor. The exceptions would be Yacht Clubs and private docks with the proper authorization. Ballast Point, Marina Pacifica, Bay Harbor, Spinnaker Bay, Spinnaker Cove, or any of the public docks are strictly forbidden.
- Licensing requirements. If you get this far in your search for a legal charter, this is a little more complicated.
- CRD License. Ask what their CRD license number is. In California, for anyone to scatter ashes-in-the-sea, they must be licensed as a CRD (Cremated Remains Disposer). No one else is allowed to scatter ashes.
- Captain’s License. Whenever there are passengers-for- hire (paying passengers) on a vessel, the vessel has to be piloted by a Licensed Captain. Ask several questions:
- What is their license number and is it current?
- How many passengers are they licensed to carry? Some are only allowed to have 6 passengers on the boat.
- Are they enrolled in an Alcohol/Drug Consortium? All Captains and all companies have to be enrolled in such a program for random testing for alcohol/drugs. Verification of this requirement can be obtained by you through the USCG Inspection division.
- City Business License Every charter in Long Beach must have a business license from the City of Long Beach: An illegal charter that was run out of the Marina never had a City Business license yet boarded passengers on a regular basis.
- USCG Certification. A vessel carrying more than 6 passengers must be certified by the USCG to do so. She is considered an Inspected Vessel. If there are more than 6 passengers, simply ask if they are a USCG inspected vessel and is their certification current.
- Actual price. This is the most obvious area where we are different from every other company. Ask if there are other charges. You will find out very quickly that these companies will nickel-and-dime you to death. They charge more for a weekend or holiday; charge you for food, drinks, flowers. And often invent other charges such as dock fees, taxes, harbor fees, etc.
We simply do not want you to incur any other expenses than necessary. So, we would never charge you more for a weekend or holiday or anything. As a non-profit, we could never justify that and believe that is wrong and uncalled for. With us food, drinks, and flowers are provided free. So, be careful, ask questions, think about your safety, not just what the cost is.