Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
A Surface Marker Buoy (SMB), a safety sausage, is crucial diving equipment for signaling and safety purposes. It's an inflatable device seen from a distance on the water's surface. Here's what you need to know:
What is a Surface Marker Buoy?
A Surface Marker Buoy is a long, inflatable tube that divers use to signal their location to their boat or other surface support. It's typically bright orange or yellow for high visibility. SMBs are inflated at the surface before a dive or underwater before ascending, depending on the type of SMB and the dive plan.
Types of Surface Marker Buoys
There are two main types of SMBs: delayed (or deployable) SMBs and regular (or surface) SMBs. Delayed SMBs are inflated underwater and sent to the surface on a line, usually toward the end of a dive. Regular SMBs are inflated at the surface before the dive, tethered to the diver, or left floating on the surface.
Importance of a Surface Marker Buoy
The primary purpose of an SMB is to increase a diver's visibility at the surface. It is vital in areas with boat traffic, rough seas, or strong currents. An SMB can signal distress, mark a location underwater, or act as a reference point for safety stops.
Using a Surface Marker Buoy
Using an SMB involves inflating the buoy, usually by purging air from your regulator into the bottom of the buoy and then releasing it to the surface while controlling the line. Maintaining control of the line is essential to prevent entanglement or rapid ascent.
Choosing a Surface Marker Buoy
When choosing an SMB, consider size, color, and ease of use. A larger SMB may be more visible but can also be more challenging to deploy. Bright colors like orange and yellow are the most visible. Some SMBs also have reflective strips or can hold a glow stick for night diving.
While SMBs enhance safety, they also require proper training to use safely. Improper use can lead to rapid ascents, entanglement, or other hazards. Therefore, divers should seek appropriate training and practice using an SMB in a controlled environment before using one in open water.
In conclusion, a Surface Marker Buoy is an essential safety tool for divers. It increases visibility, aids communication, and even saves lives in an emergency.