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I decided it was time to learn how to deploy an SMB from depth. First I did it in a swimming pool. I had a little trouble but pulled it off. Then I decided I would try it at Gilboa Quarry. With 1000 PSI left in my tank, my buddy and I went to the training platforms at 20 feet. I wanted to learn how to do this in cold water, so I used the exhaust from my regulator to inflated it. My technique was wrong, the thick gloves didn't help, and when I finally go some air into the SMB, the line had tangled itself around my regulator. I was kicking to stay down, I took the reg out of my mouth, and tried to untangle it but could not untangle the line completely. Then, needing more air to breath, put the reg back in my mouth. I thought for a while (still kicking), and finally decided that I would just kick a little less, and allow the the smb to slowly bring me to the surface. At that moment, my buddy figured out how to deflate the smb. By the time I surfaced after untangling the line, I had about 150 PSI of air left in my tank.
I thought about putting this in the near misses section of the forum except that it wasn't. I planned to do it on the platforms where it would be relatively safe, and I would have a good visual reference. There is no current in the quarry. I left enough air for contingencies, and ended up using it. My buddy was fully briefed on the plan. What I learned from the whole mess was exactly how necessary it is to try out new equipment and techniques in safe waters, and at safe depths. I am sure glad I didn't try it for the first time in the middle of the ocean with an insta-buddy.
This is a great post! Whenever you introduce a new variable to a dive, it's best to do it somewhere familiar and safe, and with someone you know. I try to change one thing at a time . . . if it's a new site, it's a known buddy; if it's an unknown buddy, it's a familiar site and familiar gear.
You also learned another important thing. When shooting a bag, get the whole assembly out in front of you, and keep it there!
Try putting a TINY shot of air into the bag so that the bag JUST floats up and gets out of your way, then dress the line, get the reel/spool squared away, open the bottom of the bag, insert reg and let 'er rip.
You were using your primary reg to inflate?
EDIT: or used the tilt method where your spent bubbles inflate the bag but the reg remains in the mouth?
Check youtube for some of the different ways people inflate the bag with varying rates of success. Having the reg actually inside the bag is an easy way to get it entangled. Having excess line is another.
LSS- this is a great skill to have- and an easy one to get wrong. The thing is, is that you can get away with having the 'wrong' technique for a while until it catches you and you're forced in to a rapid ascent and become another statistic. http://www.cmas.ch/downloads/BSAC_Di...eport_2010.pdf
In the UK in 2010, 23 DCI incidents involving rapid ascents with 14% being identified as problems with SMB.
I would suggest getting help from an experienced diver/instructor so you're not having to re-learn from incorrect procedure.
We do a lot of SMB deployment in the Maldives as there are not many places where boats can anchor, so 99% of dives are technically drift dives and safety stops are usually done with SMBs to let the boat know where you are. SMB use and OOA air-sharing are without doubt the 'roughest' of skills shown to me by 'experienced' divers. I also see Instr/guides doing it pretty rough as well so if you go with an instructor as always: caveat emptor.
Did almost the same thing myself. Without the problems. Did a simple 30 foot checkout dive and thought to hit the smb at the 3 min stop. Never deployed the smb before. Mine is a mouth blow one but I was surprised at how hard it was from a half breath at 20 feet. Great thing to practice when practice is the reason for your dive. Keep learning.
Yes, this is a very good thread...! I try and encourage people to practice deploying their SMB at depth and believe it should be required in OW or at least in AOW... Its not as easy as it looks as the op found out for themselves but best to learn in a somewhat controlled environment rather than after the boat breaks free of its anchorage in 4-8' seas off NC and everyone is scattered about...!
Hope someone goes out and tries it this weekend just because they read this thread...! lee
Upcoming trips; NC Coast at the drop of a dime...! I believe I have made my last trip to Bonaire... I dove Curacao...!!!
Yes, this is a very good thread...! I try and encourage people to practice deploying their SMB at depth and believe it should be required in OW or at least in AOW... Its not as easy as it looks as the op found out for themselves but best to learn in a somewhat controlled environment ....
IMO it should be done ad nauseum in the AOW drift dive.
Here we ask divers to demonstrate their ability to deploy SMB as part of the orientation dive, if people wish to dive as an independent buddy pair.
Personally I would make the use of an SMB mandatory if not ascending on an anchor or buoy line.
I have never been taught how to use one in any course (although I will be shortly) but have developed my own method. I used to use a ScubaPro SMB in a pocket without a reel and that was always a disaster, line all over the place on the surface and frequent entanglements until I found out about finger spools, super easy.
Use your octopus second stage to inflate (if you have one).
Everyone should have one, and I am surprised at how many people don't, even if not deployed doing the safety stop, it is the best way to make yourself noticed at the surface for the people on the boat to spot you.
Searcaigh "There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life." - Frank Zappa