surface marker for ocean diving
Deep sea diving or should I say open water diving? In any cases divers will need to be able to signal their position and communicate with the surface by using a surface marker buoy aka SMB, DSMB, sausage or even a bolb!!
At a beginner’s level, surface suport is just the boat captain and maybe his crew, just waitng in the drift to see ‘where’ the client-divers are going to surface from their dive. Pretty basic you’d say…
It should be, as long as it is agreed before the dive, that an SMB must be used and the boat crew know the type and eventualy color of the surface markers in use within that group of recreational divers.
But on the other hand, we’d have the more experienced diver, possibly a technical diver, even a sidemount technical diver 😉 who absolutely need surface support for his or her safety. During your technical diving class with Essential Scuba Training, you will learn how to deploy safely an SMB.
On tech dives, it is common to have two Surface Marker Buoys (SMBs). One orange and one yellow. It is also down to communication between divers and the surface.
Why two colors you’d say? Simplification of communication is key to avoid confusion. So there is a positioning SMB, the red one and an emergency marker that is bright yellow. Remarque that I don’t mention lift bag as a surface marker. If you use a lift bag it is because you are lifting something from the bottom of the sea, looting wrecks or salvaging something.
So if you think about the importance of communication and diver safety, you’ll realise how important this singular piece of diving equipment is!
When you are ready to buy your marker buoy, think about the type of diving you do and project to do in a near future so to make a sustainable choice. On a trimix dive for example, you must carry top of the line, life support equipment, consider your SMB as one of them. Be aware of the ‘surface marker buoy’ wannabees as they will sell you anything but the kind of marker you need or would need to use during your dives. And please, don’t go for the two-sided SMB with a red and yellow side…nothing worth to create confusion and brake the communication between you and your surface safety team.
There are different types of DSMB:
- open ended (with small weight to keep the opening submerged to prevent the air escaping)
- open ended self sealing buoys (as the buoy ascends it seals the neck at the bottom of the buoy, a funnel)
- sealed, with an oral inflation valve and a pressure relief valve;
- sealed, with a built in air supply and a pressure relief valve.