Surface Marker Buoys Are A Cheap Yet Essential Piece of Equipment
Surface marker buoys (SMB) wasn’t a standard to teach on PADI Open Water courses but it has been for quite a while now. Quite rightly so, surface marker buoys are a cheap yet essential piece of equipment. It’s not an understatement to say that they can save lives.
Along with mask and fins, it should be one of the first pieces of equipment you purchase. You can get yourself a basic surface marker buoy and finger reel for less than US$20.
Why Are SMB’s So Vital?
Two main reason, both of equal importance. At first you may just deploy your SMB once you’ve reached the surface. This allows boat crews to see you from a long distance, it’s surprising just how quickly a divers head can disappear from you view especially in heavy swell. After you’ve had more practice, you’ll be be able to deploy the SMB from depth. Marking where you are underwater so boats can steer clear and allow you to make a safe ascent. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look up and listen as you ascend, if the captain is unsighted they may not see you.
If you’re drift diving, common practice is to deploy immediately so that surface support can follow you and be ready to pick you up at the end of your dive.
Different Types And How To Deploy?
There are various designs which are deployed in different ways.
- Alternate Second Stage – The most common and simplest method. Purge your regulator into the opening of your SMB. Easy to get enough air to make the tube stand up high
- Oral inflation – Again a simple method if your SMB has an oral inflation valve. Remove your second stage from your mouth and blow into the valve
- Regulator Exhaust – Hold the opening of the SMB over the exhaust of your second stage and continue to breathe normally. Can be difficult for new divers and takes practice
- Low Pressure Inflator – Some SMB have an attachment that will fit onto your low pressure inflator hose. Detach your low pressure inflator hose from your BCD and inflate
With all methods be very careful to ensure your line doesn’t get entangled with your equipment. Keep stable buoyancy, depth and reattach/tidy your equipment. Never hold your breath!
How Do I Learn
You will be taught the basics on your entry level course but generally only deployment on the surface. To learn how to deploy from depth, you can take the adventure dive on your Advanced Open Water course. You can also take the full SMB specialty course. We recommend that it’s something you start getting used to straight away.
Practice, practice, practice and before you know it, deploying an SMB will become just a normal part of your dive.
To arrange your course or purchase a range of Surface Marker Buoys, contact us at:
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