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Diving Markers, How Do We Use a Divers Buoy Properly?

diving makers

Diving markers are something small, a detail.

Think big, they tell us. The best things in life are great. The bigger, the better! A boat? Big. A reef? Big. Vacations? Big time, of course. However, there are times when the little things are vital.

This is one of those times. A diver’s buoy is just one detail on the list of things to remember when scuba diving, but it is decisive.

When we talk about safe scuba, details, like surface markers, play an essential role and can make a dive a success or a failure. So, in today’s article, we talk about them: divers’ buoys, diving markers, surface marker buoys, diving SMB, or whatever you call these signaling devices.

Take a look at our table of contents

1. What are Diving Markers?

  • The proper name for diving markers

2. What is a Divers Buoy Used For?

  • Are Diving Markers Always Necessary?

3. Types Of Surface Marker Buoys

  • Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
  • Permanent Surface Marker Buoy

 4. How to deploy a Surface Marker Buoy

diving makers - 2

1. What are Diving Markers?

In a perfect world, divers wouldn’t have to worry about emergencies, excessive boat traffic, the swell, or whether our boat is following us while drift diving or has lost us along the way. What do I say? In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need scuba. But it is not a perfect world. So, we need captains to see us when we surface because they drive meat grinders, that our boat captain knows that we are ready to be picked up, or that he knows we need help.

Everyone has to know that there are human beings underwater. That’s what a dive buoy does. Diving markers are devices that can be inflated and float on the surface. They can have different shapes and colors. Surface marker buoys have different uses. Let’s consider them first.

  • The proper name for diving markers

We have already seen some names given to diving buoys, but there are more, the most original perhaps being safety sausage, but there are also signal tubes, lift bags, reels, finger spools, etc. However, the proper name for a diving buoy is an inflatable surface marker buoy.

2. Types Of Surface Marker Buoys

There are two main types of diving buoys:

  • Permanent Surface Marker Buoy

Surface marker diving buoys (SMB). They are permanently visible on the surface and indicate the position of a group of divers throughout the dive tour.

Generally, the Divemaster or group guide is the one who tows the diving marker to keep the boats away. They are usually round or torpedo-shaped scuba diving buoys. Some have the submerged divers signaling flag incorporated.

  • Delayed Surface Marker Buoy

Deflatable surface marker diving buoys (DSMB), also known as delayed surface marker buoys, or decompression buoys, are the second type of diving markers. In this case, the divemaster takes them deflated and fills them with air only when the group is about to surface. These dive buoys signal that the group has started to ascend.

These dive buoys look like tubes or sausages, are linked to the diver by a reel, and are brightly colored to be seen well into the distance.

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3. What is a Divers Buoy Used For?

The primary function of any diving buoy is to mark the diver’s position.

When it is a permanent diving buoy it allows the boat to follow the group and pick them up when they finish the dive. This is very useful on drift dives and night dives.

At the same time, it indicates to the rest of the boats that there is a group of divers underwater and that they must refrain from going over it because they can ascend at any time.

Another way divers use surface markers is as an identification point for sites of interest. Thus, the dive surface marker is attached to the submerged object until someone recovers it. Police and military rescue divers use this technique widely to rescue bundles of drugs, bodies, or whatever they look for on the seabed.

In poor visibility conditions, permanent dive buoys serve as a guide to locate your way to the surface.

In some emergency cases, scuba divers use safety marker buoy to help to ascent to the surface.

The delayed surface marker buoy also has the function of marking the position of the diver. However, it only inflates when the diver is submerged, so the tribulation of the boat that must pick him or her up will know if he has deviated from the intended site. At the same time, that dive marker buoy makes the group of divers visible if the sea is rough or there is little visibility.

Tec divers use diving DSMB to hold positions while making decompression stops.

  • Are Diving Markers Always Necessary?

A surface marker buoy is always recommended except in cave dives and ice dives, which are not useful because there is no direct ascent to the surface.

In all other diving, a scuba diving SMB is necessary and a good safety measure.

4. How to deploy a Surface Marker Buoy

Inflation of permanent diving surface markers is quite simple as it can be done at the surface using the regulator and even orally. The relative difficulty is in inflating the scuba diving buoy that you have submerged with you.

Submerged, follow the steps below to inflate your scuba diving SMB.

  1. Disconnect it from your equipment and grab it with your hands.
  2. Unroll the surface marker and prepare for the change in buoyancy you will experience as you inflate it.
  3. Look up and check that your divers SMB can ascend without anything preventing it.
  4. To inflate the scuba marker buoy use your mouth, your regulator, or your octopus. Introduce the air through the lower part of the buoy that is open, but do not let it pull you, release as much reel as necessary.
  5. Continue releasing line until the diving surface marker buoy reaches the surface, but keep the reel taut.
  6. Collect the line as you go up.

You already know the function of diving buoys and how to use them correctly. Tell us, what shape and color is your diving marker? Feel free to share your comments on Facebook.