John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
SMB MARKERS DIVE SIGNS BESPOKE LABELS
IT'S VERY CONFUSING for a boat-handler who suddenly sees a half-dozen late-deployed SMBs pop up at the surface and then perhaps drift off in different directions. Which ones belong to your divers? Which one do you follow? Clever divers have taken to writing their names on the fabric of the buoy. Most use a broad felt-tip marker pen to do this. The only problem is that the ink soon fades when subjected to lots of ultra-violet light, and at the surface of the sea you get this reflected up as well, providing a double dose. You are constantly adding yet another layer of ink. Mark Emery of Dive Signs had come up with neat self-adhesive labels on Solas tape intended for applying to tanks and other hard metal surfaces. You could have your name as a clear statement of ownership, or the word 'Nitrox' or 'Air' or 'Trimix', and even the mix. 'Oxygen' is an important label for the tank that carries this gas. The signs are bold, yet neat and easy to attach. Then Mark came up with the idea of name labels for SMBs. He sent one to me with my name on it. I peeled off the backing paper and fixed it to my SMB before setting off to the current-riven Maldives. An SMB is an important bit of kit there. Just after I had packed my bag, an email arrived with new fixing instructions. How were they different? Well, Mark had decided that the self-adhesive might not be permanent enough, and now recommended using Aquasure or a two-part glue instead. My label was so firmly attached by now that there was no way I could get it off to reapply it in the prescribed manner. So I took a chance. The Maldivian sun baked the label into place. When I got back, I received a second email telling me that if I thoroughly cleaned the SMB first and left the label in place for a suitable amount of time, I could use the self-adhesive backing alone. I could have told him that! Obviously two days was enough. After a few immersions, I did notice that the black lettering that formed my name was starting to fall away in places. I would also suggest that you label both sides of a sausage-shaped SMB, because the side with your name on it will inevitably rotate so that the boat-handler can't see it. Mark tells me he can now work with a far greater range of typeface styles and fonts than he could when he first sent me sample labels. Pricing works out at around ?1 per letter. www.divesigns.com