There are many skills a scuba diver should master, but one of the least practiced ones is how to deploy a Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB). From experience, being equipped with a DSMB let alone knowing how to use one does not seem to be standard practice for too many recreational divers. Being on dive boats in the Cape often, it cannot escape you how important and also challenging it is to master this skill as a diver.
Compared to other popular dive destinations in South(ern) Africa, it is more customary in the Cape to dive with your buddy than to follow a guide during your dive. This means that whenever you start your ascent with your buddy, it is essential to be able to deploy your Delayed Surface Marker Buoy in order for the skipper to locate you as well as indicate your presence to other boats in the area. However, the amount of times that divers do not have a DSMB or have never deployed one in open water, is rather shocking. For that reason alone, it is a relief that the use of a DSMB has finally been sufficiently implemented in multiple PADI courses.
There are several types of DSMB’s, a variety of reels and spools you can use, as well as different ways to deploy your DSMB. You should choose which equipment and methods work best for your type of diving and as well as to consider what kind of environment you usually dive in. Especially in places where the water hits temperatures between 8-12 degrees Celsius, extra challenges as thick cloves or very cold fingers make this task even more challenging.
There is one thing no diver will question, and that is that in order to master DSMB deployment you need practice, practice and do some more practice. It is advisable to do this under supervision of an instructor and also start in a controlled environment like a pool before taking it to the ocean. In practice, you would often deploy your buoy to the surface ascending from a dive while being on your safety stop. In order to do this, you need excellent buoyancy control and being familiar with your gear in order to effortlessly reach for the equipment needed. There is only one way to master this and that is to never stop practicing as even for the most experienced dives this sometimes proves to be a challenging skill.