In a perfect world scuba divers would hop into the water, do their dive, surface a few feet from the boat and climb back in. Life would be grand and we wouldn’t need to think twice about boat traffic, excessive swells or underwater emergencies.
But the reality is accidents happen, and when they do, time is most often of the essence. When you surface after a dive it’s important to be seen.
A surface marker buoy (or SMB) is a simple air filled device that floats on top of the water. It is used to attract attention and mark your place while submerged.
A surface marker can take many different shapes and forms, each one dependant on where they are being used and what they are required for. For scuba diving, there are two different different types of surface marker buoys; a permanent surface marker buoy and a delayed surface marker buoy.
A permanent surface marker buoy, is a buoy that is inflated at the beginning of the dive and remains on the surface of the water during the entire scuba adventure. While you are scuba diving, the buoy gets towed along the surface marking your position underwater and keeping boats away.
Permanent surface markers are typically red and white to stand out against the water and to match the diver down flag colour. The marker can be round or torpedo shaped, often with a ballast section that can hold some water to maintain stability.
A delayed surface marker, is a marker that divers take with them underwater on their dive. Attached to the marker is a reel or spool from which scuba divers can deploy the marker, during the ascent, to indicate their positioning at the surface. Delayed surface markers are long and tube like in appearance and come in a variety of bright, flashy colours such as orange, red, yellow.
Unplanned issues can occur on any dive and when they do, it’s important to be seen at the surface. Whether you use a delayed surface marker buoy or a permanent surface marker, both are very practical because they;
It’s one thing to have a surface marker on hand, it’s another to know how to properly inflate and use it. If your lucky, during one of your scuba diving courses, your instructor will have taken the time to teach you how to use and deploy a surface marker.
As easy as it is to read about how to deploy a surface marker both from the surface and while at depth, nothing compares to actually getting out in the water and actually trying it out. Remember practice makes perfect.
Having at least a rolled up delayed surface marker in your BCD pocket is a good thing for every diver to have, however there are some circumstances where having a surface marker just simply isn’t feasible.
For example, having a surface marker while diving in an overhead environment is not very practical. Cave diving or ice diving both typically have scuba divers enter and exit from a single spot, and more often than not there are no boats involved. In these instances, having a surface marker is counter intuitive and sometimes more of a hazard.
Use your common sense, when it comes to deciding whether to dive with a surface marker. Consider things like: What if a problem arises and you need to come up earlier than expected? What if the current picks you up and you are too far away from the boat? And above all, make sure you’re not compromising your safety by diving with a surface marker.
Surface markers are not the be all end all of scuba diving, but sometimes a dive just doesn’t go according to plan, and having a surface marker can be the difference between ending things unscathed or winding up on the 5 o’clock news.
Dive safe everyone!
Have you ever been on a dive where you were thankful you had a dive buoy on your person? When and where was this?
Everybody loves the idea of scuba diving, but the aspect of post dive cleanup is a much different story. It’s long, it’s tedious and it almost impossible to do it without getting wet - yet again.
For land loving travelers, Portugal has got it all, but if you are a scuba diver, this beautiful European country can easily fly’s under the radar. Pending the cooperation of the tides, wind, and weather, there are neat things to see and plenty of good macro life these cold and productive waters.
It’s a tale as old as time - women fighting against the assumption that they are weaker than men, women trying to rise in the ranks in a primarily male-dominated industry. And the battle is making progress, but it isn’t over yet...
As one of the sunshine states top shore diving destinations, Blue Heron Bridge offers some of the best diving in Florida. Mud, beaches, wrecks and small critters, no matter where you dive under the bridge, there is so much to see, explore and photograph.
As a diver, sometimes you get hit with seasickness. While not avoidable, here are our solutions to dealing with seasickness before and during your dive.
When in the Florida Keys, make sure to take the time to learn all about man’s quest to explore under the sea at the History of Diving Museum.
We all remember the viral Ice Bucket Challenge that went around social media to raise money for ALS? Well, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, the #binbagchallenge was an idea put together to raise awareness on environmental pollution and hopefully take steps towards a cleaner and better future.
The crystal clear water of Ginnie and Devil’s spring systems is arguably some of the best freshwater diving in all of Florida. As a scuba diver heading to the sunshine state, make sure to put this spot on your travel itinerary!
Taking your love for photography to new depths can be a challenge. Here are eight tips and tricks for a beginner underwater photographer.
Who would have thought that resting in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, the Azores would be a top Portuguese diving site? With nine volcanic islands to choose from and a plethora of local and offshore diving, this up and coming hotspot is just waiting to be discovered.