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.
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”