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Rhode Island Ash Scattering at Sea, New England Ash Burials at Sea

It is always appreciated when a family member wishes to express their thanks to us, for an enjoyable and memorable day aboard our vessel.  The following are some of their comments.

Dear Captain Charlie,

I have finally had enough time to sit down and write you a note to express our gratitude and appreciation for the way you handled a difficult day for Cindy’s family, friends, and me.  All of us were stressed out having to face this final goodbye. 

Were we doing the right thing?  Were we going about this the right way?  Who was this Charlie Donilon?  Just another charter boat filling in some empty time slots?  After spending two hours on the most beautiful of beautiful days with the most humble, sincere person on his beautiful boat, we now have an answer to our questions. 

We sent our wife, mother, friend, our support system and a big part of our lives to a final resting spot with dignity and respect she so richly deserved.  A large portion of this was because of you and the way you handled the service.  Everyone spoke afterwards about how wonderful the day was and how wonderful you were.  We can’t thank you enough.  You performed a sincere, thoughtful, and respectful service.  I thank you for that. 

As a closing note, you had the insight to ask us to speak a word representing our thoughts about Cindy.  That round table exercise broke the sad ice and brought lightness and warmth to the day.  So did the bird.  Thank you again.

Sincerely, Scott M. family and friends of Cindy - Williamsbury, MA


The certificate with the longitude and latitude of our ash burial was awaiting me when I arrived home in New Mexico.  Thank you for your promptness.  The ceremony was beyond my expectations.  I appreciate your comfort zone with the cremains as I was a bit anxious about that part.  This beautiful experience will be reflected on for years to come. 

The weather was so perfect and the freighter awaiting Malcolm’s cremains was almost surreal.  Thank you for the service you provided our family so that we were able to disperse my brother’s cremains in a manner suitable to his life. 

Murie T. - Albuquerque, NM

Dear Captain Charlie,

I want to thank you very much on behalf of my family for the ash burial  you provided for my dad, Adolph J.  You really made it special, just enough ceremony to make it meaningful, not too much to be overwhelming.   My dad would have loved to have met you and heard about your crazy idea to build a boat for a "retirement" job.  I guess in a way he did get to meet you since your paths crossed on a meaningful day.  We are lucky to have crossed your path as well, as I doubt there is a captain and mate out there who can provide the ash burial as thoughtful as  yours.  Thank you again for giving us a memorable experience.                                                                                                              

Sincerely, Kate J. - Ashland, MA

Hi Charlie,

I just wanted to thank you for the outstanding service you provided us for the scattering. We couldn't have asked for a better day or better captain! I am very glad I chose you for the service. You are such a sweet and genuine man. Everyone in our party thought you were superb. No one has ever thought of a scattering service before and since you've made it so beautiful for our family, everyone has broadened their horizons. We will sure be telling our friends about you and your service. Thanks for making such a painful experience bearable and fun! Hope you are able to help other families enjoy such a sensitive time in their lives.
The book was beautiful and such a great touch. Thank you for sharing!
                                                                                                                                                 Take care and Godspeed!


Brenda S. - Providence, RI

Dear Captain Charlie,

On behalf of the Mulcahey family, I would like to extend our most sincere thanks for an experience of a lifetime.  The ceremony was a perfect tribute to our beloved Mother and more than we ever expected.  Your gentle guidance through a difficult day was very much appreciated.  We are in awe of your ability to bring our family to a point that we did not think we could manage.
We are truly grateful and wish you the best of health & happiness.

Patricia D. - Hope Valley, RI

This review is for a family or individual thinking about dispersing a loved ones ashes at sea and is not quite sure how to go about doing it or what to expect:


I had recently decided that I was ready to let go of a loved one's ashes.  But where to scatter them and how - were the bigger and more difficult questions.  I also realized that the dispersing of ashes had to have some ceremony attached to it - no matter how simple.  But what it was - I didn't quite know when I first started researching this....


I was reading on the internet of different ways to disperse of ashes and came across Charlie Donilon's RI Ash Burials website for burials at sea right here in Rhode Island.  In reading through his website and his different suggestions, I felt we could have a simple ceremony - yet really personalize the journey of dispersing the ashes at sea.


When I got to talk to Charlie, I realized that who he was and how he felt about the service that he provides for family and friends is sincere and it means a lot to him.  Knowing that he was not hurried when he spoke with me over a few phone calls - made me feel good about my decision.  When he asked me why I was doing this burial at sea - I had to be frank and say I didn’t have a strong connection to the sea  (we weren't beach people), but I really liked the idea that we live next to the ocean and that the east coast is part of the Gulf Stream. (The Gulf Stream that follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundlandbefore crossing the Atlantic Ocean and then the northern stream - the North Atlantic Drift - crossing to Northern Europe - and the southern stream, the Canary Current, recirculating off West Africa). 


What better way to disperse the ashes than through a journey that could take our loved one’s ashes to different parts of the world through the Gulf Stream.  (Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, we all need symbolism here on earth to get us through losing a loved one).


So we decided on a date for dispersing the ashes.  And in the weeks leading up to it, we thought of different things along the way that we wanted to do as part of our service.


I also have to admit that I was a bit anxious the day before we were to go out on Charlie’s boat about how the process was supposed to flow and how we would feel afterwards:  How does one go about emptying the ashes from the container into a wicker basket lined with paper and then somewhere in the trip, play a meaningful song; do readings and then scatter the ashes.  Was it going to be awkward, or would it be nice, and would it have meaning.


In September, my sister-in-law and I went and met Charlie at his boat that was docked in Galilee.  The day could not have been more gorgeous: Sunny with blue skies.  It was just the three of us.  


When we were inside the cabin and we hadn’t yet left the harbor - we added the ashes into a wicker basket lined with paper that was on a table.  We also added some personal notes to the basket and then folded the paper over the ashes.  My sister-in-law and I then went outside the cabin and the whole time on the boat ride to the Pt. Judith area - we talked and marveled about the fact that this had become a journey for us and our loved one.  When we got to the place near Point Judith, Charlie turned off the engine; we brought the wicker basket out of the cabin and placed it on the pedestal outside; we put flowers on the basket; we played a song and my sister-in-law and I each did a reading.  Then Charlie read a poem.  Then with my sister-in-law and I holding on to the handle of the basket – we lowered it over the back side of the boat and let it go gently into the water.  Charlie then rang the bell 8 times to signify the end of the watch for our loved one and we rode back to the harbor with monarch butterflies en route to Mexico - flying about and above the boat.


We could not have asked for a more fitting tribute to our loved one.  We are still talking about it.  Thank you Charlie for making this journey – such a beautiful one.


M.  October 2019


M. October 2019

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 Charles Donilon
 2 Congdon Dr.
 Wakefield, RI 02879
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 (401) 487-5144

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