We have all been in the situation. You and your buddy come up from a dive and can’t see the boat.
This is the point where the doubts start coming: did they forget us, did they leave us behind, are we stranded in mid ocean all alone?
Luckily this is almost never the case; instead you see the boat sailing around a cliff, heading straight towards you and your buddy.
On the way back to shore you talk about the great dive you just experienced.
Although this will probably be the case almost every time, you still need to have safety measures setup in case the boat isn’t coming for you.
Why You Would Get Lost
There can be many reasons for this. The most feared is probably that the boat has left without you before you come up from the dive. This can happen but is quite rare, in this case you can only hope that they return for you or you can be picked up by another boat.
Other reasons for being left at sea might be: Strong currents, large waves or otherwise bad conditions can make it hard to see divers on the surface. While drifting on the surface you and your dive buddy can easily be carried out to sea by the current.
The problem with getting lost at sea is that it’s so damn big, and while the boat crew is looking one place you might be drifting in another direction. Here it’s important to be seen or heard. Unless you are equipped with an extremely loud voice or long bright collared arms, safety gear and equipment could be of great help.
Here's our article on Safer Diving: Always Have A Backup Plan.
Safety equipment to bring on a dive:
Signaling with sound is a great way of making contact, especially if the weather makes the visibility low. This can be accomplished with a horn connected to the “low pressure inflator hose” that is normally used to make contact underwater. Otherwise a simple whistle can be used in the surface. It’s small and the cost of it is limited.
Here is a sample demo of the Scuba Horn.
2. SMB – Surface Marker Buoy
SMB stands for “Surface Marker Buoy” and is a large bright colored tube that can be inflated either on the surface or underwater and is held by the diver on a string. It can be seen from a far greater distance than a small diver on the surface. In case of large waves it will, in most instances, reach beyond the waves and allow you to be spotted easily.
Read our article about Surface Marker Buoy.
Light always helps when talking about being seen or found. There are various forms of lights, such as LED sticks, strobes for the BCD strap or dive lights. Normally you don’t dive around with a big dive torch, so it is a good idea to have a small LED stick or a strobe attached to the BCD just in case.
4. Marker Buoy
This is a buoy at the surface, attached to a long rod that you hold on to, that follows you during the entire dive (not the same as Surface Marker Buoy). It will make it easier for the boat to follow you and therefore be at the right place when you end the dive.
This small list of equipment can help you get in contact with the boat or people on shore. You can always buy additional equipment to keep you safe as well, but the most important thing to keep in mind is to be careful and dive responsibly within your training limit.