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This is an article written by Larry Shane, Acting Bocas Warden for the US Embassy in Panama:

You will die. Unfortunately, all of us, presently, do. You should choose the final arrangements for your body, in advance. This is not a burden you should leave to others to decide and handle for you. You likely have personal, religious, cultural, environmental, legal concerns regarding your disposal. Follow your concerns.


If you are alive in Bocas, and you have a family plot in the limited spaces at BocasTown Cemetery, you have no concern regarding your interment. If you do not, more grave options are: placement on your owned finca outside city limits; transit to a mainland cemetery; a nearby ‘potter’s field’ where you take your own shovel.

If you wish to be cremated in Panama, your only present option is to ship your body to a Panama City crematorium. Cost of cremation is about $300. Cost to ship a body in a refrigerated hearse from Bocas to Panama City is about $1500. Plus incidentals. Then, for little cost, you may send your ashes anywhere desired worldwide.

Returning you to your homeland in a casket requires a Panama mortician’s services, embalming prep and a casket (minimum $2000), plus ground or air transport from Bocas to PC ($1500), plus freight cost to overseas destination (starting at $1500); then you need an arrival mortuary and cemetery for your funeral ($$$?!?).

Announcing — A new body disposal possibility for your consideration:
Bury you at sea. Bocas Burial At Sea Service, BBASS, will provide respectful care, sanitary safety, at a nonprofit price, for your final repose.

We have thoroughly researched all concerns regarding burial at sea. It is an ancient custom, historically practiced for at least 5,000 years. Today, it is still the tradition for most sailors killed at sea. It is not opposed legally/culturally/religiously by any group or nation. In some oceanfront countries, Japan and India, there are special rituals for burial at sea. So, this is not a new idea. Now, it may become an added tradition in Panama, in Bocas.

Presently, in most countries, the cultural preference is to bury the deceased in the dirt, then to periodically visit them at the dirt site for reunion. Well, if the point is to commune with spirits, that can be done anywhere, anytime, anyway. After all, do you only pray or dream ritually?

Panama is a Member/Signatory of the United Nations International Maritime Organization, with protocols regarding responsible use of the seas. These protocols include environmental protection rules for burial at sea. To which BBASS will conform.

Twelve nautical miles off Isla Colon, the sounding plummets to 1600 meters, over 5,200 feet, a mile deep into the Caribbean Sea. Nothing sunk that deep resurfaces. Submersion in a weighted body bag will cause minuscule environmental harm. No method is environmentally free. You return to the sea, from whence you came, to be recreated.

The total cost for this service will be about $300; for a body bag, for bearers, for boat gas. If you are interested, better that you purchase the bag now, to be delivered to you in advance for easier timely transit later. For ordering details, contact Larry Shane, . And, add an instruction in you Will, that this burial method is your wish.

I serve as the temporary manager of BBASS, a private contracted service. We intentionally have no formal organization. We seek a more permanent manager. Because at my age, I may be my own first ‘customer’. We also ask for help from boaters, to convey the demised with 4 bearers and perhaps a small group, with GPS to navigate to designated map point, for fuel expense only, available on standby.

This is intended to be a not-for-profit service, an alternative to spending a lot of money on other funeral plans. Rather, you bequeath to Bocas Asilo, our seniors’ home; or BESO, our scholarship org; or Floating Doctors, our indigenous care-providers, than spend a lot of money on the dead. Invest in life …to still live.

Larry Shane

Panama Kevin