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Which Surface Marker Buoy is right for Me?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Frenimy, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Frenimy

    Frenimy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: California
    I have searched the forum, looked around and even looked at my LDS. I am a brand new diver and I know that I want an SMB to take with me on all my dives mostly for safety but I do not know which one is right for me and what the benifits are from the large ones verse the small ones are and is lift capacity even important? Where do you all keep them at while diving?
  2. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Since this is a frequent topic, you might search some more. Try this on Google, and the first three or four threads may be helpful:

    site:scubaboard.com store smb
  3. Doby45

    Doby45 Do I have something in my teeth?

    I just recently got the below spool and SMB.

    Blue Reef Finger Spool Reel

    Blue Reef Diver-Below 4' (1.22 m) Surface Marker Buoy

    For a grand total of $30. May not be the best, but for me starting out, it gets me a spool and SMB to work with and as I advance I can always get another spool and SMB. I have heard multiple people on this very board talk about having multiple SMBs. I stow mine with the spool attached to the SMB in a thigh pocket or you could just clip it somewhere on your BCD.
  4. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    what he said.

    There are two SMB's that you need to be aware of and choose accordingly. Small ones designed to be shot from depth to inform surface support of something. Either where you are, if you need something etc. My preferred one is the Deep Sea Supply, made in California, high quality, good price, etc.

    The other is the big ass one that you inflate while on the surface when you are lost. This doubles as a secondary buoyancy device to help keep you at the surface. Recommendation here is the biggest one you can get, preferably with a strobe and reflective tape on top. minimum of 2m in height.
  5. Frenimy

    Frenimy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: California
    Thanks for the info. I are the smaller 4' ones sufficient for non drift boat dives?
  6. phoenix31tt

    phoenix31tt DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trinidad and Tobago
    depends... do you get large swells? If not the yes... the smaller ones are also easier to launch at depth.

    where i dive i really don't have the luxury of carrying the smaller ones as it probably would not be seen over the swells by the boat.
  7. decompression

    decompression Instructor...seriously...

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
    A good start is a 36" smb and a 100' spool. Then practice, practice and practice. If you find a requirement for larger smb then you'll have the confidence and muscle memory required to shoot a larger bag.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. stuartv

    stuartv Seeking the Light ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Manassas, VA
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet: There are SMBs that have an opening at the bottom that allows you to fill it with air from your 2nd stage regulator (e.g. I fill mine by doing a normal exhale and letting the bubbles from my reg exhaust go into the bottom of my SMB to fill it. Other SMBs are closed at the bottom and have to be filled by either orally inflating it or hooking your LPI hose to it. Some SMBs allow for all 3 inflation methods and some do not. You have to decide what will be best for you.

    Also, some SMBs have Solas reflective tape to make them more visible. Some have a loop or clip at the top to allow you to attach a light/beacon. At least one (the DAN SMB) has a strip of radar reflective material up the inside.

    Some are orange(-ish) which is supposed to be more visible in daylight (I think) and some are fluorescent yellow, which is supposed to be more visible at night (again, I think).

    I've done some diving off the Outer Banks of North Carolina this past summer. On one dive, we had a guy surface a little away from the boat and the current swept him away before he could get to the drag line off the stern. We were in 4 - 5' swells at the time. He did have a safety sausage. By the time the rest of the divers were on the boat and we could pull the anchor and get underway to go retrieve him (on a clear sunny day, by the way), he was somewhere between 1/2 a mile and 3/4 of a mile away and we could only see his SMB when he and our boat both happened to hit the peak of a swell at the same time. If I'm diving out there, I will always carry a big, fat, 6' (or better) SMB.

    OTOH, I did a couple of drift dives off Cozumel last December. Conditions there were so smooth that the DM used a skinny, shorter SMB to let the boat know when/where we were coming up and it was fine, I thought. No significant swell and us and the boat drifting more or less together meant not much chance of getting too far from the boat and not much problem with them being able to see the SMB.

    So, I'd say what you need depends a lot on how you see yourself diving.
    Scared Silly likes this.
  9. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Did you overlook tbone's post (#4)?
  10. nimoh

    nimoh Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Rochester, MN
    If inflating at depth, better to use a closed SMB. The open ended ones when shot from depth have a tendency to release gas if you don't keep enough tension on them (i.e. they lay down and spill gas).

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