Ceremonies At Sea

Ceremonies at sea take on all forms, shapes and sizes. These days people give birth and get married in all sort of places. Death is a little different as its a bit more regulated. But the choices are huge.
Is being at sea one of them?


I cannot think of one good, sane reason why anyone would choose to give birth at sea on purpose. Its traumatic enough on terra firma!

  • Seasickness mixed with morning sickness, oh please shoot me now.
  • Frequent trips to the boats tiny heads while you are the size of a whale, I don’t think so.
  • Cravings for pickled gherkins and coal whilst miles from anywhere, Ahhhhhh!!

Nope.. stay on land and pass me the hard drugs and gas. The little blighter has been swimming in water for last nine months it can wait a little longer to go back to sea.


Wedding ceremonies at sea have long been associated with the idea that any captain of a ship has the powers to marry. That is in  actual fact complete tosh.
Appealing though it may be, the myth of a ship’s captain presiding over nuptials of couples has for most of the last century been pretty much just that. A myth.
Most cruise ships make a killing out of onboard weddings but it all has to be done in the presence of an ordained minister of religion
A shame really  as I have this  vision of Roger standing at the bow in full flowing cassock yelling across the marina “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…..”


In Nelson’s navy, burial at sea was  a necessity. In modern Britain, it is perhaps more of an emotional impulse . But whatever the motive, burial at sea carries on, just as it has done for hundreds of years and is very much a going concern.
In Nelson’s day they sewed you up in your hammock, with the last stitch through your nose. This is just in case you are merely unconscious or blind drunk. A couple of cannon balls are placed at your feet to take you to the bottom as  floating body was considered bad form.

Modern Funerals

Today, you go to meet your maker in a sturdy wooden coffin. This also is heavily weighted down to make sure your last resting place on the seabed remains stable and secure. Everything is carefully regulated by the Marine Management Organisation.
Today, there are three designated sea burial sites, marine graveyards, as it were. one off Tynemouth in Northumberland, one off Newhaven in East Sussex, and one three miles south of the Needles, the extreme westerly point of the Isle of Wight.  It is at this last site that the vast majority of sea burials take place. The exact location is secret but it’s an area free of strong tides, fishing and dredging. A comforting thought as you sail past on route for a vacation in France! Not sure if a floating coffin shows up on AIS.
Virtually all sea burials are carried out by a specialist Devon-based company, which makes the funeral voyage from Lymington or Keyhaven on chartered cruisers, with the coffin on deck under a flag.  A white or red ensign for the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy and the Union Jack for everyone else.
Brings a whole new meaning to the favourite funeral song..
“I did it my Way”

Cowes Week Fireworks

Cowes Week Fireworks. Arguably one of the best displays on the South Coast.
Cowes Week  is one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world. With 40 daily sailing races, up to 1,000 boats, and 8,000 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors, it is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. Having started in 1826, the event is held in August each year on the Solent made tricky by strong double tides, westerly winds and oodles of commercial ferries, cruise ships, oil tankers and container traffic.
Trying to cross the Solent during this week is only for the brave or the certifiably stupid.
Let me explain. You are motoring quite happily on a heading for Yarmouth. On the horizon is nothing. Suddenly out of left field you find yourselves amongst 40 yachts going hell for leather in the opposite direction. Observing the rule that you give way to sail, you give  them a wide berth. Only to find another group of manic yotties coming at you from the other side.
Red mist rises in your eyes, you open the throttles and ignoring every COL REG  in the rule book, you plot a direct line out of there. Japanese Kamikaze pilots could have learnt from you


However the  Friday night of the week is payback time. FIREWORKS!
If of course,

  • it’s not raining
  • there is not an offshore wind to blow the cordite smoke into your face
  • it’s not blowing a hooley and therefore the whole event  is cancelled due to safety.
  • the cloud base is not too low to allow the display of the Red Arrows

Oh the joys of an English summer.
The best viewing points are  either outside Cowes or in Osbourne Bay where you will be at anchor with a zillion other vessels.
After the display there is rush for your home port. The authorities realise the problem of crowds and set a 15 knot speed limit. The harbour pilots marshal the shipping lane so you don’t run into a container ship in the dark.
But the biggest hazard are boats without lights! Especially jet skis. I hate jet skis, the menace of the waters are jet skis. No lights, low in the water and they only have 2 speeds, stop and “Bat out of Hell” They buzz around like angry bees with no respect for the speed limit. They appear out of the gloom from nowhere and just as you swing hard on the helm to avoid them, they buzz off into the darkness to scare the living daylights out of someone else.How no one is injured is beyond me.
If you thought the madness of the race week was something, try the sail back after the fireworks. Its carnage.