How to deploy a DSMB – delayed surface marker buoy

One of the most important skills a diver can have is how to correctly and safely deploy a Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB). In this article we will discuss  a few different ways of how to deploy a Delayed Surface Marker Buoy, using a finger spool reel.

A SMB is used on your dives when you get to the point that you and your buddy decide to go up. First of all, you will want to signal to your buddy that you’re okay, and ready to deploy your SMB. Next you will want to get out your SMB and get out your finger reel. The next step is to attach your finger reel to your SMB. Remember that you may need to unravel your SMB a little bit, so you can get to that attachment point on the base of the SMB. With your finger spool, take out the double ended bolt snap and secure that onto a D-Ring on your BCD or onto your harness system. Remember to make sure that its secure and won’t accidentally fall off and disappear as you will need it again shortly.

The next step is to physically attach the finger reel to the base of the SMB. As there are many types of different models on the market you may need to attach a clip or put the reel leader line through the webbing on the SMB and then pass it back through the hole in the leader line to create a secure connection. Which ever method you need, the most important part is that there must now be a secure connection between the finger reel and the SMB.

Next you will need to unravel the SMB. Remember to take your time here when completing these steps, particularly if you’re a newby, as it is here that many divers rush and create tangling problems for themselves. As with many skills underwater, a slow and methodical approach is best. Just take your time and organise everything, keeping it away from your body and your equipment to prevent accidental snagging.

You are now ready to begin inflating the SMB. This can be done in many ways however if you are new to using an SMB, then we suggest using your Occy/Alternate regulator. Secure your alternate air source, make sure it works and place it on the under side, inside of your DSMB. Give it a small puff of air, just to put some air in. This allows more time to ensure that all steps have been completed correctly and that there are no entanglements. When you are happy you can then fully inflate it and let it go. Remember that the volume of air inside the SMB will expand as it rises, so if you don’t completely fill it don’t worry, physics will do the rest!

Once your SMB has shot up to the surface, keep hold of your reel. You can use the tips of your fore finger and your thumb to hold the reel when it shoots. This way you have some limited control of its speed. Then grab the double ended bolt snap you previously clipped off to the D-ring and now attach it to the line on the reel. By pulling it nice and tight and then attach it to your reel you can use it to easily help you hold the correct position. This will allow you to re-secure your alternate air source. Once done you can now grab hold of your reel and you’re ready to begin the ascent and complete your Safety Stop.

There are many different ways to deploy your Delayed Surface Marker Buoy, using a finger spool. It’s always best to practice your method multiple times in a controlled environment, like a swimming pool or a shallow and sheltered shore diving site, before you go to a deeper open water environment. In addition it’s always best to learn with an Instructor present, so that they can teach you, hands on, exactly how to deploy your SMB.

Choosing a BCD: Jacket or Wing?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive. Should I choose a jacket style BCD or go for a backplate and wing setup?

Most of the recreational divers that you will come across these days use a jacket style BCD. For many this may be a simple continuation of their Openwater training BCD. It’s familiar, comfortable and easy to use to get the job done. However at some point in time, you’ll come across divers in backplate and wing style BCs. What’s the difference, and which is right for you? Well let’s take a deeper look into the different styles and examine the pro’s and cons of each.

Jacket style BCDs

By far the most common type of BCD on the market these days is the jacket style BCD. These have been in use since the early 1980’s and are manufactured by all of the leading Scuba brands due to their popularity and ease of use.  Jacket style BCD’s come in all types of shapes, colours, weight integration options, and of course sizes. Nowadays you can also select between Mens or Womens style BCD’s to ensure yourself a better and more tailored fit as well.

The main advantage of a standard jacket style BCD is the shape of the bladder within the BCD itself. A jacket style BCD has a larger bladder that comes around the front of the divers chest and waist area with air also being held between the divers back and the tank. By having the majority of the air trapped around the chest and the waist a jacket style BCD once fully inflated, will hold the diver vertically upright on the surface with excellent lift, even in choppy and demanding ocean conditions. This type of jacket style BCD also allows you to lie on your back easily if surface swimming short distances. These can all be be major advantages for newer divers just starting out, particularly if their in water comfort level is still being improved upon.      

However, when underwater the movement of air inside a jacket style BCD can make it more difficult to achieve an even horizontal, or prone, position. Consequently, even when neutrally buoyant, many divers will swim a little “leg down.” This is not as streamlined as the prone position (think of how a skydiver lies). Getting the wrong fit can also make buoyancy control more difficult, especially if you’ve got a BCD that is too big for you. The air can move around more, which can make the unit feel unstable.

Generally, jacket style BCDs tend to have large pockets, which come in handy for carrying all kinds of things like torches and spare masks although these can be somewhat difficult to access when you’re fully inflated on the surface. So if you do choose this style of BCD then it’s sage advice to be careful to not carry more equipment than you need just because you may have the capacity to carry it.

Many jacket style BCD’s now include Integrated Weight carrying systems which can be a godsend for divers with lower back problems. These are a great alternative to wearing a weight belt or weight harness when drysuit diving, and make it much easier to drop your weights in an emergency situation. As with any weight system always remember to consider the ease of operating the quick release system when choosing between different models.

Many divers also like how easily jacket style BCD’s attach to the scuba tank, and how effortlessly they are to don and doff. However, they are bulky and can take up a lot of space when traveling, which is a big consideration when going on a dive holiday. Fortunately there are now lots of lighter, travel minded BCD’s on the market. Overall however, jacket style BCD’s are still by far the most popular selling choice among divers.

Backplate and Wing style BCDs

Originally designed to cater for technical diving, where divers are using twin scuba tanks, possibly carrying side bailout stages and / or diving rebreather units. In recent years, backplate and wing style BCD’s have made more inroads into recreational single tank diving. The concept is very simple: the diver wears a harness that is attached to an aluminum or steel back plate. The inflatable wing is attached to the back plate and sits on the diver’s back between the diver and the cylinder. Wings are available in doughnut and horseshoe shapes, but the most common is the doughnut thanks to it’s continuous bladder design which allows the air to move around the entire outer part of the wing.

Backplate and Wing style BCD’s have a few major benefits. You can easily swap the Wing for a larger one if you’re doing a technical dive requiring greater lift such as when using a twinset. In this way, you have the same harness system for each type of diving, just swap over the wing. Since the wing sits on your back, it’s easier to achieve that horizontal prone position underwater making you very streamlined and less of an entanglement hazard. With a wing style system, there is nothing around your waist apart from the harness, so you will feel less encumbered and more free in the water. Just as with a jacket style BCD most wing style harness systems now have optional weight pockets and you can also add additional storage pockets if so desired.

Backplates are available in two main options: Steel or Aluminium.  If you want to minimise your dive lead, a thicker Steel back plate is a sensible choice. If you go on lots of dive holidays and luggage weight is a major concern, then go for an Aluminium back plate which is thinner and much lighter. There are even some companies now producing backplates manufactured from Carbon Fibre, however they are considerably much more expensive and must be handle with a higher degree of care.

One disadvantage of a backplate and wing style BCD is that it can be more difficult to stay vertical on the surface. Since the air is only on your back, there is a tendency to go either face down or back down like a bobbing turtle on the surface. This can be quite annoying. However, you can easily remedy this with greater experience and by remembering to lift your knees up slightly and tilting your head back. Technical divers swear by this set up, and among the wider diving community, wing style BCD’s are becoming more popular every year because they are so adaptable.

Hybrid – Back inflate jacket style BCDs

The hybrid style BCD’s offer a combination of both the above styles of BCD’s and are designed to take advantage of the best of each in one system. There are quite a few different models available, each with their own characteristics.

Hybrid back inflate models all strive to fit like a jacket around your waist and shoulders and also provide the lift from a bladder on your back. This makes it easy to attain that horizontal position without a separate wing and backplate. They still have large pockets at the waist, but as with jacket BCD’s, it can be a little more difficult to feel steady in a vertical position when at the surface.

Tips for Entry Level Freedivers & Spearos

Freediving,  breath hold diving, skin diving or spearing is a form of underwater diving that relies on the individual’s ability to hold their breath until resurfacing rather than relying on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.

Freediving is a fantastic sport for everyone and you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy it. Freediving is more about relaxation, mind set and technique, than it is strength. Your goal is to connect with the water and enjoy all the feelings and sensations. Underwater on one breath is a great place to be, so remember to always appreciate every minute of it and enjoy your diving.

When it comes to exploring a new challenge like freediving, it’s wise to know a few tips and tricks to help get you started whilst developing safe habits from the get go. For those ready to experience what this great sport is all about and enjoy the peace of the underwater world on a single breath here are some great tips for beginner freedivers and spearos.

Never Dive Alone

This is the number one and most important rule in freediving, or any time you’re in the water for that matter. The buddy system is very important and should never be disregarded. It’s essential to watch out for each other, learn to safety each other in every dive shallow or deep, and of course everything is always more fun to share with someone or a group of people. You will learn the reasons for never diving alone in the PADI Freediver course.

Always Use a Dive Flag

By using a dive flag you are letting the surrounding boating traffic know that there are Freedivers in the water and that diving operations are in progress. By Australian law, the skipper of a vessel must avoid an area displaying a Dive Flag by 200 metres. If the vessel must travel through the diving area, then the vessel’s speed must be no greater than 5 knots within 200 metres of the dive flag. This is required to avoid collisions between divers and vessels and allows the vessel significantly more time to safely maneuver to avoid the divers.

A dive flag is an absolute MUST have item for every Freediver and they are also required by law in many states and territories of Australia. In Australia, we use an Alpha Flag as our designated Dive Flag. This is a White flag with a Blue swallow tail as seen below.

When selecting your Dive Flag there are plenty of options available on the market these days. Essentially freedivers who are diving from a boat will use a separate Dive Flag that  can be mounted prominently from the boats UHF aerial or pole. Whilst divers entering the water from the shore line will opt for a Dive Float and Flag that can be easily towed in the water behind the diver. This way the dive flag always follows the diver around in the water.

Take the PADI Freediver course

Knowledge is power and even the worlds best Freedivers never stop learning about their sport, their bodies and the processes that occur when freediving. On the PADI Freediver course you will learn what your body has the capability of and of course the safety aspects of the sport, which is indispensable. Taking a freediving course will introduce you to the basic elements of the sport in a step by step manner, under the direct supervision of an experienced Instructor which will build your confidence and experience in freediving.

Have fun!

Remember to always enjoy the beauty of what surrounds us in the water. It’s like nothing else in this world. You have the ability to stay underwater on one breath of air, so enjoy the silence, peacefulness, and beauty of it all. Joining a school of fish, diving with a pod of dolphins, or simply taking underwater photos, every freediver will live in the moment and feel truly free.

Learn about your environment and protect it

Our oceans and shorelines are struggling and they need our help. A good place to start is at your local dive spots. Get involved in a local beach and ocean cleanup. Cleanup Australia have been involved for years in cleaning up Australia’s shorelines and coastlines to help create a better future for the health of our Oceans and our precious marine life. There is also PADI’s Project Aware  which has done some amazing things for our oceans worldwide. So take part and get involved in helping to create a healthier tomorrow for everyone to enjoy. Start with yourself, be an advocate for the ocean, and if you see others disrespecting it, educate them. We only get one chance with our oceans and we really need to pay attention and help them any way we can.

Relax, Relax, Relax

Relaxation is the key to freediving. Deep, slow, calm breaths help lower your heart rate so that your body will conserve oxygen. Every tense muscle uses heaps of oxygen and energy. Freediving will teach you how to learn to relax your body through different breathing and relaxation techniques in freediving courses and clinics. Some exercises are borrowed from yoga practices, so you may already recognise some of them.


A good way to prepare for your dives is with the use of visualisation. Visualise happy things and peaceful surroundings and your mind will automatically relax your body and lower your heart rate. Visualisation can be used pre dive as well as during your dive. Next time you plan on heading out try to visualise step by step how you want the dive to go before you even get in the water. When your Freediving, if you find yourself getting tense, try saying a little mantra or sing a song in your head, and watch how it helps you to relax again. Of course different things will work for different people, but some type of visualisation will certainly help before and during your dives.

Freediving Equipment

You don’t need to have the best freediving gear to be able to enjoy your underwater playground. Beginner freedivers will most likely have scuba fins or short fins and that will work fine as a beginner diver. However there are a few items that will certainly help to make your dives a lot more comfortable from the start. A low volume mask would be a great first purchase. Scuba masks are much bigger and are more difficult to equalise when you are freediving. With a low volume mask, it will be much easier to equalise as you go deeper and they are also much more flexible and comfortable. As you fall in love with the sport, you will begin to invest in other freediving gear such as a two piece wetsuit, long blade fins, a rubber weight belt and a dive computer. For now, just use what you have to begin your freediving journey.

Learn from everyone you can

Watch other divers and ask questions. Join a local Freediving Club or dive school and soak up everything you can from certified Instructors as well as other certified freedivers. As you freedive more, you will find that freedivers use different techniques to reach their goals. Start with the basics in a course, master these, and then build on your own knowledge and find what works best for you.

(Disclaimer: Do not fall for the trap and become an “internet” freediver. There is a lot of wrong information out there that could be potentially harmful to you, so please make sure that you get your information from credible sources and certified agencies.)

How To Choose A Dive Mask That Fits Your Face

We’ve all been there before. You have the day off work, the sun is shining, the wind is gone, the sea’s are flat and the visibility is going off! You head down to your favourite local dive site like a young child running to unwrap their presents on Christmas morning. After you’ve prepped your gear and headed out into the water you put your head underwater only to find that your annoying mask won’t seal correctly and feels like it’s actually letting the whole ocean in.

Whether you’re just learning to dive or you’ve been at it for years, improper mask sealing is a major frustration amongst divers, spearos and snorkelers alike. However it can be easily fixed by selecting the correct mask for your face. So to get a good fit for your new mask here’s some tips that should make a real difference and get rid of the problems of a leaking dive mask.

When choosing a new dive mask, three sets of criteria are critically important: fit, fit and fit. As no two faces are alike, proper mask fitting needs to be given the time it deserves to ensure a successful outcome.

The first consideration when buying a mask is how well its skirt seals against your face. Despite claims to the contrary, no one mask fits all faces. While the vast majority of mask skirts range from 10 to 12 cms (4.5 to 5 inches) in width between temples, their shapes differ considerably. So the only way to find the right mask for your face is to go into your local dive store and actually try them on for yourself. These three steps will help you to successfully complete this process.

Step 1:  Try as many different masks on as possible. Don’t be sucked in by colours, price or wow factors. Remember that the best mask in the world is the one that fits your face correctly, not everyone else. Once you have a selection of masks to choose from adjust the mask strap so that it’s as loose as possible and out of the way. Some dive shops may even let you remove the mask strap all together. The main thing is you do not want the strap to be involved in the fitting process. Many divers forget that when you are in the water it’s actually the water pressure, not the strap pressure, that should seal the mask to your face. In fact divers who over tighten their mask strap can actually cause a mask to leak even though it may have a correct fit! Not too mention that a mask strap done up too tight will only result in a terrible headache later on!

Step 2: Ensure that there is no hair under the mask skirt when you place the mask up to your face. A major cause of a leaking mask is hair being trapped between the diver’s face and the mask seal. So you should always move any hair away from the sealing area. Next, put the mask on your face and move it this way and that until it feels centered, comfortable and all edges of the skirt are in direct contact with your face. It’s also important to relax your face muscles when completing this step. Incidentally you’d be surprised just how many people naturally start making peculiar faces when doing this step – so remember to relax your face. For the ladies, it’s also a good idea to not wear any makeup the day you decide to try on new masks as it can also lead to inaccuracies and improper fit.

Step 3: With the mask against your face gently suck through your nose and let go of the mask with both off your hands. If it has made a good seal it will stick to your face for a couple of seconds. Remember, don’t suck too hard as it will just distort the skirt and give it a false seal. A properly fitting mask will seal with a gentle inhalation effort.

Step 4: Now adjust the strap so that the mask is just barely held in place against gravity, not pulled tight, and try Step 3 again. Sucking should pull the mask toward your face. Hold your breath. The mask should stay pulled in for several seconds—the longer it stays, the better the seal.

Once you’ve found your perfect mask that fits your face and seals correctly, don’t forget to give it a proper prep when you get it home so that it’s ready to go and won’t fog up when you need it on your next dive. Unfortunately all new dive masks fog very readily when they’re new and it’s due to the residual silicone left on them from the manufacturing process. In fact some frameless design masks are absolutely notorious for this problem and its caused because of the residue also leaching out of the skirt and strap material causing the fogging to persist.

However it’s really easy to fix and there is a solution. Over the years many, many methods have been developed to combat this problem including the ol’ toothpaste option. We have tried them all and truly believe that by far the best and easiest way to clean off residual silicone is to use McNett Sea Buff. Sea Buff is a specially formulated dive mask pre-cleaner that carefully removes all residue left on new dive mask lenses by the manufacturing process and prepares the surface for the first application of anti fog. Sea Buff can also be used to remove other residue accumulated on masks while diving or during storage.

Finally, now that you’ve found your perfect fitting mask, pre-cleaned it to remove the silicone residue, you’ll want to ensure that it won’t fog up on you when you’re in the water doing what you love. McNett Sea Gold is your best option by far. It’s a powerful formula that lasts much longer than other anti fog treatments and is 1000 times better than just spit. Sea Gold is the best anti-fog treatment out there and is even effective through multiple dives. Simply put a little of this unique highly concentrated formula onto your mask lenses, rub around with your finger tip, wash it off and you good to go and enjoy your diving completely fog free and most importantly leak free thanks to your new, correct fitting, dive mask. 🙂

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Welcome to divein2scuba Blog! This blog will bring you fantastic stories from the deep, discussion on important topics, as well as helpful hints, tips and info on the latest and greatest scuba diving, free diving and spearfishing gear we have available. 🙂