The one scuba accessory you should NEVER dive without
As a scuba diver, being prepared for any situation that can arise is the most important consideration. A surface marker buoy is a crucial piece of scuba equipment because it prepares a diver for numerous potential safety events. This could include anything from being separated from a group due to a strong current, or simply wanting to mark your position to alert marine traffic to your presence as you dive. Here’s why this seemingly simple and inexpensive piece of gear is one that nobody should ever dive without.
What is a surface marker buoy?
A surface marker buoy is a buoy that is used to mark your position in the water and alert boats and other marine traffic to your presence. They can also help you to be identified quickly in an emergency. The two types include:
- Surface marker buoy (SMB)
- Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)
These essentially do the same job and look the same. For example, they are both essentially inflatable tubes made of Cordura Nylon that come in neon, attention-grabbing colors like yellow, pink, orange, and red. Both SMBs and DSMBs are available in five, six, and ten-foot lengths.
However, there are some subtle differences between the two that are important to understand to decide which is the right choice for the type of diving that you do:
- DSMBs have the ability to be inflated under the water and sent to the surface attached to a reel to mark your position. The Dive Alert Surface Marker Buoy is a great, high-quality option.
- SMBs are not designed to be launched from under the water. Rather, you get to the surface and inflate it when you need it.
Both marker buoys have the option to inflate orally through a dedicated valve, as well as an opening that enables you to fill it with an alternate air source at the bottom, send to the surface, and mark your position. Much like a buoyancy compensator, both also have overpressurization valves that will pop open to save a buoy from becoming overexpanded when being filled.
Six reasons to always bring a surface marker buoy on your dive
- It can save your life.
- They are inexpensive. So inexpensive, in fact, you can own one in every color!
- They are not always easy to rent. Don’t rely on a dive center to provide one for you, you have to have your own.
- They can double as redundant buoyancy. If one of the valves on your BCD fails, a surface marker buoy can double as a floatation aid.
- You can’t expect boat traffic to look for your bubbles or even know that you are there.
- You can wave it around and attract attention. If you surface even a short distance from your boat, you can pop your SMB out and wave it to get the captain’s attention. Other helpful instances include if you are having a muscle cramp, fatigue, or need any other type of assistance.
Scuba equipment is an area of great innovation, but sometimes the simplest gear is the most crucial. Regardless of what kind of diving you do, or which surface marker buoy you decide to opt for, it is one of the most important pieces of equipment to bring on every dive.