What is a Surface Marker Buoy


One of the most important pieces of safety equipment for divers are surface marker buoys. Many times it’s required that you use one when you are diving around the world or in Padangbai and Bali. What actually is a Surface Marker Buoy, or SMB? SMBs are inflatable markers that alert bystanders of a dive location. SMBs can take the form of flags that float on the surface of the water but most people know them as inflatable tubes. Sometimes known as “safety sausages,” These devices are crucial and help mark of your location in instances such as drift diving.

Why to use surface markers

You really never know when you might need a safety sausage. Safety should always come first and every diver should know how to use and carry a surface marker buoy. When you are scuba diving in Bali many of the dive-sites are drift dives. With an SMB the captain of the boat can see where the divers are at all times. The PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) provides educational classes to teach divers how to properly make use of surface marker buoys and you can find more information online or directly in our diving resort in Padangbai.

Surface marker buoys and Safety

There are many instances where divers have been reported missing. Although most of them are found the most common reason this happens is because the dive master was not using a surface marker buoy, or that the SMB was not big enough for the captain to see it. Have more than one SMB can help solve this issue and dramatically increase the chance of being found after the dive is finished. For this reason alone every diver should be equipped with and delayed SMB. You can be the world’s safest diver, but sometimes nature will make other plans and you may find yourself in a bad situation. With SMB or DSMB you will be easy to spot by other mariners and people on the water and every time you plan your dive you should also be planning for diving emergencies. 

Delayed SMBs in Padangbai

First time I used a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) was when I started to scuba dive in Padangbai, Bali. This is a safety buoy twhich can be release while you are underwater and not only when you are at the surface. Delayed sausages are super important especially in areas of high boat traffic and currents. Divers have them in their pockets for whole dive and only released them on their ascents or while doing safety stop. This is not only very practical but extremely comfortable too.  Divers can drift hundreds of meters only during a 3 minute safety stop and it makes things easier if you deploy DSMB for boat to spot them. Many technical divers use DSMBs as a help on which they basically hang on during their long decompression stops.

Remember that carrying one of these bright orange or yellow surface marker balloons can save your life when diving in spots like Bali or Padangbai and try not to dive without them because you never know when you may need it.

Read more about where to dive in Padagbai.

If you are intersted to dive in Padangbai read the Padangbai guide for scubadivers.

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