'I don't want to go in an ordinary way'
Family and friends of former premier David Saul bid farewell to him yesterday afternoon in a brief but beautiful ceremony at sea.
A small flotilla of boats, followed by a handful of people on kayaks and paddleboards, headed about a mile off Devonshire Bay to pay their last respects as his body, bound in a burlap sack, was slipped into the Atlantic Ocean.
On the way, they stopped much closer to shore, said three cheers and blew a bugle, next to the buoy underneath which lies the purpose-built casket which Dr Saul planned to make his final resting place in order to create an artificial coral reef.
The purpose-built metal box was located by his son, Jonathan, deep in a sand hole, but was no longer fit for its intended use. Dr Saul's widow Christine decided instead that he would have a more traditional sea burial, further out to sea, but still within sight of his home at Devonshire Bay.
The 77-year-old, who died on Monday after suffering two strokes within the past two months, spent much of his spare time in and on the water.
A keen diver, fisherman and kayaker, he told this newspaper in 2006: “I live in Devonshire Bay and I look out of the window and there's the sea. I have spent a good portion of my life on top of it or underneath it. This is the way I want to say farewell.”
He added: “I wouldn't want to go in a very ordinary fashion. What I don't want is to depart and for people to say 'wasn't he just ordinary'.”
Nothing about yesterday's ceremony felt ordinary, from the perfect seafaring weather, to the sight of paddleboarders pushing off from the bay and forming part of the marine procession.Not long after 3pm, the Dive Bermuda vessel carrying Dr Saul, his family and a handful of friends, motored down and was still, as Christine read a customised version of a Robert Louis Stevenson requiem: “Under the wide and sunny sky, find me a reef and let me lie.”
As the man described by his family as “an athlete, artist and statesman” was lowered into the sea, there was a brief silence and flowers were cast on the waves.
Peter Backeberg, a friend of the Saul family, who kayaked to the ceremony, told The Royal Gazette: “It just was entirely appropriate and fitting — they couldn't have picked a better way for a send-off.”
Ernest and Susan DeCouto watched from the shore and said a prayer when the bow of the boat faced northwest, as is traditional for a sea burial.
Mr DeCouto, a dive buddy of Dr Saul's, said: “Knowing David, he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.”
A memorial service for Dr Saul will take place at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Church Street, Hamilton, at noon tomorrow.
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