Surface Safety Equipment
Making sure you have the right equipment can make the difference between an inconvenience and something much more serious. The kit doesn't have to big, heavy or expensive and as long as you look after it will quite often look after you for all the years that you dive. So what type of equipment can you carry to help?
An SMB or Delayed SMB is the most obvious piece of equipment to carry and are generally required by all charter boats and liveaboards. Beyond surface positioning whilst you are diving that can alert your surface cover should you become separated from the group or expected dive route, they make excellent visual aids on the surface when held up as it doesn't take much surface chop for a diver to be lost from view in the waves.
Whilst an SMB will provide a marker than doesn't deflate a Delayed SMB is quite often a simple open cell device. Opting for a self sealing version will provide you with the best of both worlds, allowing inflation from depth and a reliable marker on the surface.
A simple SMB is normally available from as little as £15 or even less but a DSMB is a little more complicated to make so you'll be looking at around £30 or more depending on extra features and brand.
Whilst yelling might seem loud enough to you it is quite often difficult to hear over the noise of an engine in a boat. Whistles are quite often incorporated into BCD designs as part of a buckle or aftermarket whistles that work when wet are widely available.
Devices like air horns give you that extra edge though. They are insanely loud, connect between your BCD low pressure hose and inflator and can be pointed in a particular direction for maximum effectiveness.
Dive Alert are possibly the best known brand that makes these devices and offer versions to fit most brands of BCDs.
As technology improves, components get smaller, better and more advanced. You've only got to look at smart phones to see that. Electronic positioning devices for divers were pretty cumbersome, were expensive and had limited functionality in the past but technology marches on. Today these devices are smaller, last longer and are cheaper than ever.
The Nautilus Lifeline Marine Rescue is one of the most popular choices for divers because it is depth rated to 130m in it's housing, waterproof to 1.5m on the surface, provides a simple activation process and links into commonly used marine rescue systems once activated. Usually the only maintenance that is required is changing the battery ever five years so there is no reason why it shouldn't go on and on.