Surface Safety Equipment
Ensuring you have the right equipment can make the difference between an inconvenience and something much more serious. The kit doesn't have to be big, heavy or expensive and as long as you look after it quite often looks 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 prominent 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.
While an SMB will provide a marker that doesn't deflate, a Delayed SMB is often a simple open-cell device. Opting for a self-sealing version will provide you with the best of both worlds, allowing inflation from the depth and a reliable marker on the surface.
A simple SMB usually is available for 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 often difficult to hear over the noise of an engine in a boat. Whistles are 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 is possibly the best-known brand that makes these devices and offers versions to fit most brands of BCDs.
As technology improves, components get smaller, better and more advanced. You've only got to look at smartphones to see that. Electronic positioning devices for divers were pretty cumbersome, expensive, and had limited functionality, 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 its 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 required is changing the battery every five years, so there is no reason it shouldn't go on and on.