Ash Scattering at Sea

Memorial Services – Cape Cod

A funeral at sea offers a moving and dignified alternative to a conventional funeral.  Down Cape Charters is proud to honor maritime traditions with our symbolic “End of Watch” tribute.  Whether your loved one enjoyed ties to Cape Cod or simply felt a love for the sea, we hope our services can provide a level of comfort and closure during a very challenging and emotional time.


The striking of eight bells at noon harkens back to the days of sail, when time was kept by a trickle of sand through a half-hour glass.  One bell was rung for each passing half-hour to help keep track of watches while at sea.  At the end of a four-hour watch, with the striking of eight bells, the watch would change.  Eight bells – the end of watch – can also mark a seaman’s death, meaning a sailor has “finished his/her final watch”.


Our ash scatterings are performed within sight of the Chatham Lighthouse – one of the most historic lighthouses in the country.  The sea itself becomes a memorial to the deceased and the lighthouse provides a tangible location to visit and look out on the area where your loved one was laid to rest.  Family and friends are welcome to visit year round, watching the sun rise over the water or walking the beach below.

~ Lives well-lived deserve a fond farewell filled with love and respect. ~


Location of Ash Scattering

Compliant with EPA requirements, ashes must be scattered no closer than 3 nautical miles from land.  Our standard service will leave Pleasant Bay and travel the appropriate distance due east of the Chatham Lighthouse.

Alternatively, scatterings can be performed off of Nauset Beach to the north or Monomoy Island to the south.  Please see the FAQ’s at the bottom of this page for more details.

Order of Tribute

Once we arrive at the desired location, the service typically involves making 3 circles.

During the first circle, a family member is often designated to say a few words or to read a special verse.  If you prefer, the Captain is also available to recite and share any poems or prayers you may choose.

During the second circle the ashes will be released.  Down Cape Charters will provide:

  • A biodegradable urn, if needed.
  • One dozen roses.  While additional flowers and/or wreaths are welcome, please note that all items released during the ash scattering ceremony must decompose.  No plastic flowers or other non-biodegradable items should be released.
  • Water soluble cards for any final messages the family may wish to write.

At the appropriate time, the captain (or a family member) will lower the urn into the water and afterwards, a moment of silence is observed.

The third and final circle provides an opportunity for placing additional flowers and for remembrances and prayers.  The captain will finish with a captains prayer followed by the ringing of the “Eight Bells” signaling the end of the departeds “watch”.

Once the service is complete the boat will return to our dock.

Ash Scattering at Sea

Memorial Service


1-6 Passengers    $1,250.00

7-12 Passengers  $1,650.00


  • The services of a USCG licensed captain.
  • All required paperwork and filings required by the EPA.
  • Biodegradable urn, if needed.
  • One dozen roses
  • Water Soluble cards for any final messages guests may wish to leave.
  • End of Watch tribute by captain.
  • An official Memorial at Sea certificate marking the latitude and longitude of your loved one’s final resting place.  Additional copies available for purchase ($10).
  • Bluetooth speaker for music.
  • Bottled water
  • Duration:  2 hrs

Rates are shown for the standard itinerary described above.

We would be happy to quote you a price on a custom service if you have other ideas in mind besides our standard tribute.  Please call us at 508-241-4070 to discuss your preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your cancellation policy?

For a full refund, a minimum of 7 days notice is required.

Cancellations made less than 7 days in advance – but more than 48 hrs before departure time – will be charged 50%.

No-shows and cancellations made 48 hrs or less before departure time will be charged full price.

What if there is bad weather?

Safety is ultimately our top priority.  We will not operate in hazardous weather conditions such as heavy rain, thick fog, high winds or thunder and lightning.  If severe weather cancels your reservation we will make every effort to reschedule for another day.  Otherwise, a full refund will be issued.

However, no guarantees can be made that every part of every day will be perfectly sunny.  So we will operate as usual in overcast conditions, light fog and in intermittent sprinkles.  Guests should dress appropriately for changeable weather and bring a positive attitude!

The final decision on weather related cancellations rests with the captain and reservations should be considered upheld unless we contact you directly.  

What documentation will I need to provide?

The only information we will need at the time of your reservation is the full legal name of the deceased.  A death certificate will not be necessary.

After the service, we will prepare all EPA required paperwork and submit on your behalf.

Will a permit be required?

There are no required permits for an ash scattering burial at sea in the state of Massachusetts.  However, the EPA does require that:

  • Ashes be scattered no closer than 3 nautical miles from shore.
  • Notification be sent to the EPA regional office within 30 days after the event.

Down Cape Charters complies with all EPA requirements and will process all required paperwork on your behalf. 

Do we need an urn?

No urn is needed.  Ashes can be scattered directly into the water if that is your preference.

However, an appropriate urn will remove the possibility of a wind gust potentially blowing ashes back towards the boat.  This is not common but winds are known to shift and that risk (although small) does exist.

The majority of our customers arrive with their own biodegradable urn.  You are welcome to bring/use any urn designed to be released into the water.

In either case, we will always have a standard biodegradable urn on board just in case its needed.

Can we bring our own flowers to scatter along with the ashes?

Down Cape Charters will provide one dozen roses for the scattering.  Beyond that, you are welcome to bring additional flowers or wreaths to scatter so long as they are completely biodegradable – no plastics, foil, etc.  

Can we have a religious clergy attend and perform a service?

Of course.  Any religious service or prayer service is welcome.

Alternatively, the Captain is honored to be able to recite and share any poems or prayers of your choosing.

What happens if my group size changes after booking?

The group size you specify at booking will slot you into a specific boat size.  As long as you stay within the specified range (1-6 passengers or 7-12 passengers), nothing more needs to be done.

If your group size grows into the next range of passengers, please contact us to see if a larger boat is available at your requested time.

If your group size shrinks into a smaller range of passengers, please contact us to see if a smaller boat is available at your requested time.

Where do your scatterings take place?

The EPA requires that we travel a minimum of 3 nautical miles from land for an ash scattering.

Our standard service travels 3 miles offshore of the Chatham Lighthouse.  This location allows us to minimize the time spent on the open ocean, which in turn, minimizes the chances of guests getting sea sick.  Its always best to avoid adding a queasy stomach to an already emotional day.

The Lighthouse also provides a tangible location for loved ones to visit in the future.  The overlook offers a spectacular view, free parking and is open 365 days per year.  Guests can look out over where the scattering took place without the need of a boat.

If your loved one requested a different location, we will do our best to accommodate.  However, we are limited by the total duration of the trip to an area from Nauset Beach down to Monomoy Island.  We unfortunately cannot accommodate requests further afield than that.  We also cannot legally scatter ashes within Pleasant Bay.

Can you provide or play specific music?

If you have any special music or songs in mind, we can easily connect your Bluetooth capable device directly to our audio system on board.  Otherwise, we have a general playlist that we can use/not use at your discretion.

Are there any age restrictions or physical restrictions?

Our Ash Scattering Memorials have no age restrictions.

Those with mobility issues must be able to walk down the resort dock (pictured on our About Us page) and step up into the vessel.  Rarely is this an issue, but it should be mentioned.

How early should I show up for my reservation?

To leave enough time for our check-­in procedure, we recommend your party arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time.  Leave yourself some margin for traffic or parking related delays, pre-departure bathroom stops, etc.

There will be no refunds or credits for customers arriving late.  Trips are scheduled multiple times per day and to ensure that all of our reservations are honored, your tour will still have to return at its regularly scheduled time.

May food and drinks be brought on board?

All of our trips include complimentary bottled water.  Additionally, customers are welcome to bring their own snacks and beverages.

Please remember that you will be eating/drinking on a boat that is moving, open to the wind and may or may not have a table or cup holders (we operate several vessels and each is equipped differently).  Our advice is to KEEP IT SIMPLE and don’t bring anything that you aren’t prepared to eat in your lap.  Smaller snacks and finger foods are easiest and less likely to stain your clothing and our upholstery.

For adults over 21, reasonable amounts of beer and wine are also allowed.


  • Leave the red wine at home.  On a moving boat it will stain clothing and upholstery.
  • No hard alcohol.
  • Please opt for cans and minimize glass containers in general.  Wine bottles are allowed but no beer bottles.  We will provide plastic cups if needed.

Any excessive use of alcohol will result in the immediate termination of the trip with no recourse.

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