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Surface Marker Buoys (SMBs)


Being able to let the surface know where you are during a dive is critical in some situations, and highly recommended in most others. The main ways divers use to achieve this are: a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) which stays on the surface, with or without a dive flag; a Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) which can be deployed by the diver from underwater; or a Safety Sausage which can only be deployed on the surface.

We consider the Safety Sausage to be unsafe and don't sell them. After all, how do you safely get to the surface in areas where there is boat traffic in order to deploy your safety sausage. They are usually much smaller than DSMBs, and thus don't do nearly as good a job as a signalling/location device.

Most people refer to a DSMB as just a SMB, which is why this category is called Surface Marker Buoys (SMBs), but technically they're very different.

SMB vs DSMB

A Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) is floated on the surface during a dive to mark the diver's position during drift dives, night dives, mist or disturbed sea conditions. A SMB is absolutely essential kit for diving anywhere you may have surface boat traffic. It allows your position to be known by people watching from shore and watercraft, whether they be the boat you are diving from, or other water users. Typically a SMB will have a dive flag on it as well. See Surface Markers for our range of SMBs.

A Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB), decompression buoy or deco buoy, is deployed whilst the diver is submerged and generally only towards the end of the dive. The DSMB marks the diver's position underwater so the boat safety cover can locate the diver even though the diver may have drifted some distance from the dive site while doing safety or decompression stops. A reel or finger spool and line connect the buoy on the surface to the diver beneath the surface.

Our recommendation is that all divers should carry a DSMB and reel on every dive. In many boat diving situations it's also good practice to also have a Surface Marker with dive flag up on the surface to tell your surface support where you are for the whole of the dive.

SMBs and DSMBs are not intended to be used to lift heavy weights. That's what a Lift Bag is for.

Where to Deploy Your DSMB

Delayed SMBs, such as the AP Diving Buddy DSMB, are designed to be deployed from depth near the end of, or at any critical point during, a dive. Some divers, like us, prefer to shoot their Delayed SMBs from the bottom and thus let the surface support know they're begining their ascent. Other divers shoot from mid-water when they start their safety stop, or decompression stops. We strongly recommend you have a Delayed SMB and reel/spool with you on every dive. On open water dives, waiting until you surface to deploy a surface only safety sausage is dangerous in high boat traffic areas.

Which Colour Delayed SMB Should you Use

There are essentially three choices for DSMB colouring — all Red, all Yellow, or Red and Yellow on contrasting sides.

Studies have shown that Red and Yellow are the two most visible colours at sea. But each colour works better than the other in different conditions. Thus if you look around a dive shop, you will see up to three SMB colours: all Red; all Yellow; and one side Red, one side Yellow.

Recreational Diving

An all Red SMB is far and away the most common SMB colour. This leads some new divers to buy an all Yellow SMB so theirs will stand out more when at a busy dive site. We don't recommend this.

Other divers buy the two-colour SMBs (Red on one side, Yellow on the other side) because these must surely be the ideal for high-visibility over the widest range of conditions. For recreational diving, especially when ocean diving, this is what we recommend. However, it is essential that you let your surface cover know that your combined Red and Yellow SMB is not being used as an emergency signal unless an emergency signal or message is attached to it.

Advanced/Technical Diving

In Australia, and many other parts of the world, there is a convention used by more advanced and technical divers that an all Yellow SMB is an emergency signal, to be responded to by sending down a cylinder of gas, or a rescue diver, or both.

Whilst for the most part recreational divers do not have or need such a signal, it is possible for both types of diver to be on the same dive site. If one group of divers is using Yellow as an emergency signal and the other group uses Yellow as standard, this could lead to confusion and even to a genuine emergency signal being ignored.

For this reason, unless you have a very strong reason for wanting an all Yellow SMB as standard, please don't buy one.

If you decide that you would like to use a Yellow SMB as an emergency signal yourself, two precautions to take are:

  • Make sure your surface cover knows this convention
  • Mark the SMB with "EMERGENCY", "HELP", "SOS" or some other such message in large, clear black letters to ensure there is no doubt that you are a diver in distress and not just a diver who thought a Yellow SMB looked nicer than a Red one.


Nepean Bay Inner West

Reef Dive Reef Dive | Boat access Boat access

Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Marine Park - No Fishing Night Dive Site Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site

Depth: 1 m (3.28 ft) to 5 m (16 ft)

Level: Snorkelling, Open Water and beyond.

Located at the Western end of Nepean Bay, situated on the north side of Point Nepean, this reef dive site features a series of detached reefs in shallow water. This reef area feature deep undercuts and is full of marine life and a large variety of fish species. Port Jackson sharks can be found in the breeding season in quite large numbers, sheltering under these deep crevices.

This shallow site is great for both snorkellers and scuba divers. However, the site can only be accessed by boat, as shore diving is prohibited at Point Nepean. The site is exposed to tidal influences and is best dived on the ebb tide.

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

This site lies in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. The park is made up of six separate marine areas around the southern end of Port Phillip: Swan Bay, Mud Islands, Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean, Popes Eye, and Portsea Hole.

Thirty-one of the 120 shipwrecks known to have occurred within a 10 nautical mile radius of Port Phillip Heads are thought to be within the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park in Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean.

Aboriginal tradition indicates that the Bellarine Peninsula side of the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park is part of Country of the Wathaurung people, and the Mornington Peninsula side, including Mud Islands, is part of Country of the Boon Wurrung people.

See also, Parks Victoria: Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,
Park Note: Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park - Map,
Divers Guide - Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park Identification Booklet, and
Taxonomic Toolkit for the Marine Life of Port Phillip Bay.

Port Phillip Heads Bathymetry
Port Phillip Heads Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria
Point Lonsdale Bathymetry
Point Lonsdale Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria
Point Nepean Bathymetry
Point Nepean Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria
Popes Eye Bathymetry
Popes Eye Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria
Portsea Hole Bathymetry
Portsea Hole Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria
Mud Islands Bathymetry
Mud Islands Bathymetry
Source: Parks Victoria

You are not permitted to carry a spear gun while snorkelling or scuba diving in Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park.

Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country
Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Bunjil the Creator Spirit of this beautiful land, who travels as an eagle, and Waarn, who protects the waterways and travels as a crow, and thank them for continuing to watch over this Country today and beyond.

 

Nepean Bay Inner West Location Map

Latitude: 38° 18.247′ S   (38.304122° S / 38° 18′ 14.84″ S)
Longitude: 144° 39.351′ E   (144.655847° E / 144° 39′ 21.05″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2020-05-17 10:27:50 GMT, Last updated: 2022-03-22 17:34:30 GMT
Source: Divers Guide - Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park
Nearest Neighbour: Nepean Bay Inner East - Radar, 272 m, bearing 92°, E
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park.
Depth: 1 to 5 m.



DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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