Surface Marker Buoys


Surface Marker Buoys

We have all seen them, many know what they are for… But, surprisingly enough…a lot of certified divers don’t have one. Many don’t feel confident about handling them, and/or don’t see it as a important piece of equipment. This was my case too, until I began to work in the dive industry! Service Marker Buoys (SMBs) serve for various purposes:

Drift dives

Many divers enjoy these kind of dives, when you just cruise along with the current…no hard swimming..just relax and enjoy! Well when the dive is coming to an end, normally the guide will launch the SMB so the boat can spot the divers and pick them up.

Boat traffic

Some dive sites are located in areas where there often is boat traffic, what better way than to let the boats that are circulating know you are there than by marking your position using Surface Marker Buoys?

Different Dive Profile

Most divers, when diving abroad, go with a dive guide….this is for various reasons, but mostly it is to get the most out of the dive, as the guide knows the area, the different point of interest and risks to keep in mind. This means that often divers with different levels end up diving together, the guide will usually stick to the diver/s with less experience. This means that it is very probable that when this diver/s run low on air he will ascend with them, often cutting the other divers dive short. If you have a SMB you can stay under and finish your dive, as it will be easy for the boat cover to locate and pick you up. It will allow you to dive longer and/or do a different dive profile.


When diving from a liveabord or charter dive boat it is common practice that – should you wish to – you may dive independently of the dive guide. In this case you will be need to deploy your Surface Marker buoy after EVERY DIVE to show the boat crew where you are so that they can avoid driving over you in shallow water, and can easily and quickly collect you once you surface.


If you get lost, separated from your group for any reason, you want to have something that is clearly visible for the boat cover or rescue crew…what better tool than a SMB?? It is designed to be visible and buoyant. If there is one thing I have learned while working in the dive industry, is that ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’….and the theory of ‘it is better to have it and NOT need it…than NEED it and NOT have it’ is a good rule to follow.

Learn now – you won’t regret it later

Of course we all trust the centres we dive with, and the guides that dive with us….but not having the proper equipment, or the knowledge of how to handle them, is assuming that nothing will ever go wrong. And when it comes down to extreme sports, such as diving, that take place in something as vast, powerful and unpredictable as the ocean. We should approach it with respect and preparation. The use of the Surface Marker Buoys is simple, if you aren’t confident about how to use it, or just don’t know how, here is the good news: It is EASY! You can learn how to use one with just one or two dives, and later just continue practicing with it at the end of every dive until you are comfortable with it. Ask your dive centre or instructor to teach you. It is CHEAP, most diving gear is pricey, the SMB compared to a computer, BCD, or regulator set is very accessible. It will build your confidence, knowing that you can handle yourself should the occasion arise, gives you that extra boost to try new things, different kinds of dives….etc….

Happy Bubbles

Only a Diver Knows The Feeling

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