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(surface marker buoy deployment, or “shooting a bag”)
Due to the complexity of deploying a SMB, divers often struggle with it. I would like to present to you a step-by-step description of the process. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll assume you’re using a Halcyon 3.3 ft SMB with a cold-water 100 ft defender spool. First, the SMB is typically kept in the left thigh pocket in your dry suit. This is because we consider the SMB as a tool we will use on almost every dive so the left pocket is designated as the “utility” or primary tool pocket. Items that we don’t expect to use will be stored in our right pocket. The SMB may be pre-attached to a spool to speed deployment. The SMB/spool should be secured in the pocket by clipping the double-ender of the spool to a bungee attached to the inside of the pocket. To deploy, you will first signal to your team to “watch” you deploy the SMB. This is a team event in case assistance is needed. Pull the assembly from your pocket and make sure to re-close the pocket when you’re done. Hold the assembly out in front of your team to allow for good visibility. Take the budgie keeper off the SMB and unfurl it. Next, unclip the double ender and clip it to the right chest D-ring. Make sure to roll up any slack line and wrap a small portion of the SMB fabric around the spool so that the inflator nozzle can be trapped under the index finger of the left hand. At this point, the entire assembly including spool and SMB are being held in the left hand with no line slack being allowed. With you right hand, remove your regulator from your mouth remembering NOT to take an unusually large breath. Blow 2/3 rds of your breath into the SMB to make it “stand up”. Replace your regulator and look above you to assure you won’t be sending the SMB up into other teams or divers. Your team can help with this by visualizing above you while you’re setting up the deployment. Deploy the spool approximately 6″ until you see the knot in the line assuring that it will deploy smoothly without tangling. Keep in mind that the first breath you take after inflating the SMB will likely want to make you rise in the water column. You can address this by angling your body into a slight head-down position and use a subtle frog-kick to hold your position. Let go of the SMB and let it ascend to the surface while holding the spool lightly between your thumb and middle finger. DO NOT put your finger through the center hole for risk of your glove binding in the hole. Once the SMB has reached the surface, secure the double-ender on the spool such that there is no slack allowed in the line.