How to deploy a Scuba Diving Surface Marker buoy. Names like safety sausage, safety buoy, SMB which stands for surface marker buoy are common.
As a Scuba Diver it is a must to carry a safety surface marker buoy with you at all time to prevent accidents with boats on the surface.
Where and when to Deploy the SMB
The surface marker buoy in short SMB will be deployed underwater before you do your ascend and just before you start your 5m/3min safety stop.
Whats it for?
Boats and other marine vehicle will see the bright colored surface marker which sticks out of the water for about 1-2m and can go around it it a distance.
Safety ascend to the surface
Even though you have released your buoy to the surface, after your safety stop you have to ascend to the surface carefully as many captains have no idea what this buoy stands for or may not see it.
What about at night?
They are still visible at night due to a reflecting band on the upper end of the SMB if lights shine onto it.
On the other hand you can use your torch stick it in from the opening on the bottom turn on your torch and enlighten the whole SMB.
Some also have a prefabricated clear holder for a torch or a strobe on the upper end as you can see in this Picture above
Often the Surface Marker Buoy come with integrated whistle for surface emergency signaling.
SMB’s come in different Materials. The most robust is Denir or Nylon Fabric. They also come in soft PVC which we do not recommend as they are not robust and burst easily.
They come in various high visibility colors like red orange purple or Yellow.
Most of them look like a straight tube with about 1m-2m in length.
There are some on the Market with a Dolphin or a Nemo Fish on the top end which makes a personalization of the boring safety sausage a bit more fun.
Carrying the SMB
You can carry them easily with you underwater as you can roll them up into a small ball and pack them either into your BCD pocket or they sometimes come with their own packaging pouch.
Hand reel Finger reel
To be able to deploy the SMB underwater and not loosing it you need to have a string attached or even better a hand reel or sometimes called finger reel with a long string on it at least 7-8m as you deploy it usually at your safety stop at 5m of depth.
Most of the finger reels come with a 30m long string attached.
If, for example, you have to rescue an injured person from the water and tow him/her to the surface, a surface marker buoy can help to support the injured person or even keep him/her on the surface.
Can also be used as a lift bag to a certain extent
The buoy can also be used to support Marine Conservation underwater work, for example to bring abandoned fishing nets to the surface.
Fixed marker buoy
Or it can also be installed as a fixed buoy for the time being underwater to mark the descending and ascending point.
You should always have a buoy with you so that if you have to ascend in an emergency you don’t have to ascend without a buoy.
How to deploy an SMB
The Surface marker buoy has an opening on the bottom where you can inflate them with your alternate air source regulator or orally.
Some later and more expensive SMB’s come with a Oral or Inflator hose valve and an over pressure valve which make it more rupture resistant.
- Make sure the D-Clip is unclipped from your finger reel
- Make sure your BCD is empty or you have at least a neutral buoyancy if not a little negative. That’s important so the SMB does not pull you up too quickly in case you get entangled in the string or forgot to unclip the SMB from your BCD. (Seen all of it).
- Once you prepared and are ready you can inflate the SMB slightly with a bit of air.
- You don’t have to over do it as the Air expands on the way up and fills the SMB additionally.
- Hold the finger reel until you notice a small updraft of the SMB and then let it spool off by just keeping your finger in the middle hole of the reel. Don’t let the finger reel go.
- Once the SMB reached the surface the finger reel stops spooling off and you can slowly wind yourself up towards the surface obviously after you finished with your safety stop!
Here are our recommendations for the best surface marker buoys on the market in 2021
DiveSmart 6ft Scuba Diving Open Bottom Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
- EMERGENCY GEAR: Flag down help, day or night with our 5 signalling methods, including the reflective band, flashlight / torch velcro strap, strobe light holder, “Diver Below” markings and attached whistle
- RUPTURE RESISTANT: Made from a 210D Nylon Fabric with a TPU coating for added strength, with an over pressure valve and weighted bottom and is designed for all water conditions.
- REGULATOR or ORAL INFLATE: Open bottom design utilizes your regulator spare air to fill. Upon ascent, hold the line tightly for optimal performance.
- COMPACT ALL-IN-ONE KIT: No need to carry the dive reel separately in your BCD, the 100ft spool fits within the SMB pouch, is held with an elastic band and attaches using the D clip.
- Necessary piece of small equipment to be included in every dive bag with your mask, computer, regulator, fins, tank, knife and snorkel. Never leave it at home.
SMB red, Alloy 49ft Finger Spool Reel Double Ended Hook
- Diver Below Surface Marker Buoy Inflatable Dive Flag Float Length Size: 4FT（1.2M）/ 5FT（1.5M)/6FT(1.8M); Dive Reel Length: 50FT(15M)/ 100FT (30M); High Visibility Reflective Band on the double sided of the diver down flag, pointing out there is diver below . There is a D ring on the top, you can hang night lights in dark.
- Easy Filling and Steady You can use mouth / low press BCD snorkel / Second Stage hose.We suggest you to use automatic method, fast and convenient. Besides, these is a weighted block in the end of tube so that make it stand upright.
- Safety and Rupture Resistant 210D Nylon Fabric, Non-return Design, the input will automatic turn off after finish inflatable. And built-in over pressure relief valve, it will release the excess pressure.
- Orange Color Full experience diver always suggest every diver to choose Orange color, other color would disappear from far away.
- Stainless Steel Finger Spool Reels Steady material used, more Durable than plastic, Won’t hurt your finger. Swivel connector is to prevent line tangling and twisting.
Scuba Choice Scuba Diving 4′ Neon Yellow Surface Marker Signal Tube
- Material: Nylon with TPU
- Size: 5″ (W) x 4′ (L)
- Plastic Clip included
- Fits in BCD pocket or clip
- Easy to use oral inflate “Diver Below’ print
Scuba Choice Scuba Diving 6′ Surface Marker Signal Tube Oral and Standard BC Hose Inflator
- Material: Nylon with TPU
- Size: 5-3/4″ (W) x 6′ (L)
- Plastic Clip included
- Easy to use oral inflator, you can also use standard BC hose to inflate
- Diver Below’ print
Seafard 5ft Scuba Diving Open Bottom Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) with 98ft Finger Spool Alloy Dive Reel and Double Ended Bolt Clip
- HIGH VISIBILITY DESIGN – The Neon yellow surface marker signal tube is a 5ft surface marker with a Reflective Band tape on both sides for maximum visibility.
- EASY FILL & STABILITY – SMB (total weight 390 grams) can be filled using the oral inflator, or through the use of a regulator in the open bottom of the SMB.
- RUPTURE RESISTANT – Made from a 210D Nylon Fabric with a TPU coating for added strength in all water conditions and a built-in over pressure relief valve allows the tube to ascend without rupturing.
- SMB FINGER SPOOL – Strong and corrosion resistant aluminum metal finger spool dive reel with 98ft of braided nylon line and stainless steel double ended bolt clip.
- LIGHTWEIGHT & COMPACT – The combination ideal for cave and wreck diving, scuba diving, travelling diver, snorkeling, photography and other underwater activities.
Additional Surface Marker Buoy Equipment
30m/90ft Aluminum Alloy Lightweight Scuba Diving Finger Spool Reel + Bolt Snap Hook
- Reel Thickness: Approx. 3.5 cm/1.4 inch
- Material: Aluminum Alloy + stainless steel
- Line Length: Approx. 30m/98ft
- Line Thickness: Approx. 0.2cm/0.08 inch
- Reel Outer Diameter: Approx. 6.5 cm/2.6 inch
Double Ended Bolt Snap Hook 3.5 inch
- Higher-quality springs and smooth channel ensure a easier opening & close. Stainless steel springs can quick to open and lock, we also had a special quality inspection for channel ,make sure the springs can glide smoothly in their channels.
- Made of premium zinc alloy, strict factory quality inspection, 10,000 times spring rebound test to ensure durability.
- Most of iron springs rust easily,hard to open and close ,which is very annoying, that is why we use stainless steel springs, rust-proof, still slide smoothly even after a long time use.
- It is very necessary for us to know the working load limit （≤50kg /110lbs）,please do not overload,we care about the safety so much.
- Application:ideal for indoor and outdoor projects:such as pet collars, hanging feeding buckets, belt loop, key chain, boating, industry, farm, gate latch, rope, gym equipment
This was our Equipment Guide and list of the Best Surface Marker buoy in 2021! We hope you enjoyed the article. Please share it with your friends family and other divers on your social platforms website or leave us a Comment with your favorite.
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