For your safety, each diver should know how to deploy a SMB
Deploy a Surface Marker Buoy for the first time in open water is not an easy skill. Yet it is very easy to get exercise without risk. Inflate a SMB occasionally brings fun at the end of the dive. Who was never pulled by its SMB because his octopus got stuck ? How many times have you left your SMB surface without having attached ?
Practice on land
To practice safely, it is simple : Just place your regulator behind your back. Place your primary second stage in your mouth. Simulate a SMB deployment. Repeat steps several times, and if possible, closing your eyes. Practice on land prior to do it in water. Unlike this diver, you will not feel alone.
There are differents ways for inflating your SMB
In real conditions, the first step is to achieve neutral buoyancy. Whatever your depth at which you will deploy the SMB, be neutral and calm. Deploy your SMB as during repetitions. There are several ways to inflate your parachute. The method chosen will depend on the conditions and type of SMB :
- Insert your alternate air source in the entrance of the SMB. Leave the mouthpiece horizontal (to avoid free flow). Don’t put your regulator inside the SMB. Gradually inflate the parachute. Once sufficiently inflated, release the SMB.
- Oral inflation by expiration with the regulator. Place the entrance of the SMB near your primary second stage. Tilt your head 45 degrees, exhale while making sure that your bubbles enter the SMB. Repeat 3-4 times before releasing the SMB. This method tends to change your buoyancy in shallow waters.
- By oral inflation blowing. Some SMB are equipped with an inflation connector. Take a breath through your primary regulator, remove it from your mouth, blow into the SMB inflation mouthpiece. Replace your regulator in your mouth and release your SMB.
There are two things I do not recommend to deploy a SMB :
- Deploy only one SMB at the end of diving. In some countries, when two or more SMB are deployed at the same time, this serves to signal an emergency.
- If possible, use the alternate air source to inflate your SMB ever your primary regulator. If you inflate your SMB through the inflation mouth, keep your primary regulator in your hand.
Repeat with your instructor
I use three methods. This depends on environmental conditions and depth. However, during a PADI Open Water course, I teach you to inflate your SMB by using your alternate air source. It is a part of your equipment as a autonomous diver. Epic moments guaranteed.