Best Ways for Surface Signaling

Besides running out of air and knowing that you can’t make it to the surface, the next worst thing is to get separated from your dive boat. Often it could even be that you can see the boat but they can’t see you!

Your best option at that moment is to be able to signal the crew and your dive buddies so they can see you and rescue you. Knowing how to use your surface signaling devices can save your life in such a situation.

Make Noise and Stand out Visually

You’d be surprised how short the distance is that carries your voice when you are at the open sea. Similar for visibility. Your head sticking out of the water is not seen that easy even if it’s just a few hundred feet away!

It’s always a good idea to have a whistle and visible devices like an inflatable signal tube with you. Alternatively, you can think about bringing a small flare or light stick, a mirror for signaling or even an air horn which you can link to your inflator hose.

None of these devices takes a lot of space. You can put them in the pocket of your BCD or attach them to one of the D rings and you know that you’ve increased your chances of being seen or heard a thousand-fold.

Signal Immediately

When you surface and see that you won’t be able to reach the boat then instantly try to get the attention of your buddies and the crew on board. Don’t wait until they start searching for you and possibly drive in the direction away from you.

No matter what surface signal device you use, use it at the earliest time possible when you realize that you’re not in reach of the boat. Time is of essence and the close to the boat you are the better your chances are that you’re either seen or heard!

The Higher the Better

Your chances of being seen increase with how high you can get your surface signaling device out of the water. If there’s rough seas then nothing can be seen if it’s flat on the water. The higher and taller your signaling tube is, the better. It can then reach high up above the waves and clearly show the crew on the boat where you are.

Use of Surface Marker Buoys

During dives where you expect strong currents of you want to drift, it makes sense to use a surface marker buoy. This is basically a signal tube which always floats above you and is connected through a line and reel with you. This allows the crew on the boat to constantly monitor your position and have the boat follow you. When you surface the boat will be there!

Markers for the Night

Diving at night requires you to have the appropriate signaling devices so you can be seen. Without a strobe, flare or light stick it’s basically impossible for anyone to see you when you surface. You can find light signaling devices that you can attach to your signal tube so the light reaches up high when you surface.

Surface Marker Buoy in Red for alerting others that a scuba diver is underneath or to allow a diver to be seen

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There’s no excuse not have the appropriate signaling devices with you when you dive. Most of them are compact and you can easily store them in your BCD. You always want to bring the markers and devices that you need for the dive you’re undertaking. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to for example not have a light marker when you’re diving at night!

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