A new company buries your loved one's ashes in wildlife-friendly concrete on the floor of the Bay. Photo courtesy of Reef in Peace.

Buried at Sea: Underwater Memorial Plots for Sale in the Chesapeake

Funeral planning. It’s something no one wants to do. But a company in Gloucester County, Va.,
is providing a new option, especially for lovers of the Chesapeake Bay. They will permanently intern
your loved one’s ashes in an underwater memorial on the floor of the Bay.

A few years ago, Brian Bayford found his dad mixing cement in a bucket in the garage. Upon Bayford’s questioning, his dad admitted he was mixing his friend Pete’s ashes in the cement so he could lower Pete into his favorite fishing hole.

According to Bayford, “Casting human ashes into the water is technically illegal, though no one seems to enforce it. This occurrence gave me the idea to make underwater memorials that would be perpetual and legal.”

The approval process took several years. Bayford had to work with the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. “Mostly, I worked with the VMRC. While it took a while, they were very helpful.,” said Bayford.

His company, called Reef in Peace, is now open. Reef in Peace will place a loved-one’s ashes into a concrete memorial that weighs several hundred pounds. A mostly aluminum plaque with the wording of your choice is placed on top. Then the memorial is placed in the Chesapeake Bay, or at an alternate site in Venice, Florida. The concrete is a special mix that is designed to provide a favorable home for marine organisms.

In Virginia, Bayford places the memorials at the Cabbage Patch reef southwest of Cape Charles. Customers are given the exact location and depth should they want to visit. Bayford has reservations in place for memorials in Virginia, but as yet has not placed any memorials in the water. Bayford has placed memorials at the Florida location. “People like the Florida location because the water is more shallow, and clear, so you can actually see the memorials from the surface,” said Bayford.

If you or someone you know loves the Chesapeake Bay so much they want to spend eternity in its waters, be sure to check out Reef in Peace. They have a Facebook page, and can be found at reefinpeace.com, or call 804 824-9230.

-Kendall Osborne