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Okay, here's an odd question

Colorado Springs...
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Okay, here's an odd question

Does anyone know about any rules or regulations about scattering someone's ashes at sea? My ex-step father recently passed away and wants some of his ashes scattered off the coast of Tortola. We are will be on St. John in April and thus we have been delegated this task. We figured we could do it while out on a charter trip. Any thing I should know in advance? He introduced me to the VI on a sailing trip in 1991 when I gradfuated from college so it is kind of an honor to do.

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1. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

Gees, how will you get them through security at the airport? I think that would be my first concern.

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2. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

Hmm. I don't know if there are rules about that. But I can say that we took my father's ashes on a plane out of the country to be scattered (per his wishes) and weren't questioned at all. I didn't bring it up, but nobody asked.

I'm sorry for your loss.

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3. Re: Okay, here's an odd question


Here's a link that may be helpful. What a lovely gesture on your part! May he rest in peace.

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4. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

Here is another link - it looks like it needs to be approved.


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5. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

I had this conversation with a group of folks in the VI within the last year. Nobody had a clear answer; there was one fellow saying a permit was needed but like getting a permit to grow hemp none was available. Others said it was allowed only at certain depths which would require a boat ride out to a drop-off. We all kind of agreed it fell very cleanly into the "it's easier to beg forgiveness than get permission" school of thought.

Be discreet, choose a semi secluded non-beach location and all should be fine. Be aware that in calm water there is a bit of a sheen or dusting that remains on the surface for a few minutes.

I've flown out with ashes and have been with family that flew in and there was no trouble either way.

From an AARP web article:

"The TSA has worked with crematory societies to come up with an urn that is "less opaque" than traditional urns. The more translucent ones allow the Xray machines to see through them, therefore ensuring that TSA may verify that ashes and only ashes are being brought on board the plane.

“As long as the TSA can see through the urn with Xrays,” said White, “there should be no problem flying with ashes whatsoever."

Of course, a passenger may check an urn; however, most, if not many, people are hesitant to do so as the materials are quite precious to them, and you wouldn't want to lose them and never get them back. However, some airlines do not allow ashes in checked bags, so you'll have to check with your airline if you want to transport the ashes.

A good idea might be to purchase a temporary container for use in transporting the ashes.

Waitsfield, Vermont
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6. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

I can't answer your question about scattering ashes, but I have flown with cremains (yes plural.) And as a previous poster mentioned, I certainly didn't want to check them and run the risk of losing them, as I was tasked with getting them to the memorial service on the other coast. They asked at x-ray what it was that they were seeing on the x-ray, and I replied "the cremated remains of two family members." No more questions...

This was before 9/11/01, so I guess the questioning might be a bit more stringent.

St Thomas
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7. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

The cremains are usually packed in a cardboard box and I'd see no problem having them in one's luggage and going through with no problem at all. I helped arrange a scattering of ashes several years ago on St John - the longtime STT resident had passed away in the UK and friends brought his ashes in with no issues. We scattered our friend, per his wishes, right off a STJ beach from three rum bottles (he would have loved the touch as we all knew!). I've also been to scatterings offshore USVI and don't recall any permission having to be applied for or granted. Obviously an at-sea burial of a body is a different (dare I say "kettle of fish"?) but I can't imagine the BVI would have any restrictions on scattering of ashes.

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8. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

Please forgive me if this come off as too blunt but if you are talking about just a portion of the remains, I would just do it and not worry about it. Its not like you are dumping a huge amount of material, YKWIM? Plus, it is sanitized organic matter, not something dangerous.

Edited: 06 December 2012, 15:32
Billings, MT
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9. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

A friend of mine took her mom's ashes on a cruise to spread them a little where ever she went and she took them in a larger Metamucil jar :) No one said a word to her.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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10. Re: Okay, here's an odd question

Not so odd IMO.

TSA won't give you any problems if you disclose what you have if asked.

You specifically mention Tortola so that would mean your going to need to take a organized tour or a private charter, I guess the ferry is an option but hardly a personalized experience.

I would think that if you went on an organized tour there would be plenty of opportunities to quietly move to the aft of the boat and scatter the ashes while underway. I'm sure if you speak to the captain they would be happy to assist, afterall it is the way of the seaman.

Mike in Tulsa