Surface marker buoys are an essential part of a scuba divers safety gear. The effectiveness of which is up to the user. Being seen by your boat and other boat traffic gives you a margin of safety. Now with the revised PADI Open Water Course, surface marker buoy and delayed surface marker buoy is part the training standard.
What we teach
As a minimum standard at AUS DIVING ACADEMY we teach delayed surface marker buoy, as it is a far more effective tool for divers. While it is a little harder to master the safety margin becomes far more effective. Allowing boat traffic to see you long before you surface gives you a greater amount of safety.
I teach divers to release the SMB at between 7 and 10 metres before reaching the safety stop. With a delayed surface marker buoy and reel if you are a little deeper then your safety stop it makes the process easier. Adding a little air from your alternate air source will get the inflation process started. Once you’re ready to start filling your SMB do so as you breathe out this helps keep you in place. Your buoyancy changes with the release of air into the SMB. It does not have to be full of air, but its better to have at least 50% before you release the SMB.
In learning to master the delayed surface marker buoy students often loose the reel in the process. First thought is always to try and catch the reel creating a accidental rapid assent. If you loose it let it go. It will follows the SMB towards the surface the reel will come slowly tumbling down the water column and back to you. Now slowly start to make your way to your safety stop.
Once you have completed the safety stop and you are on the surface at this point if you need more air in the SMB it is simple to add the extra while you float on the surface.
The delayed surface marker buoy allows you to be seen well before you surface. This in itself gives you a greater safety margin. Divers popping to the surface and then deploying an SMB are placing themselves at risk. The fact that there is a SMB on the surface even if it isn’t completely full makes for better diver safety. SMB’s are a must for all divers and improve safety, safe diving should be every diver’s goal.
PADI IDC Staff Instructor 331032
AUS DIVING ACADEMY