Visibility at sea is essential for two, almost opposing, reasons; making sure boats avoid you and making sure you can be found. While this post focusses on what you can do to make yourself seen, always ensure you have a whistle so that you can make yourself heard too.
Be Seen © Jason Turgeon
- Signalling Mirror. Hardly common use anymore but they are one of the simpler and cheaper tools you can have. They don’t take up much space but do rely on the sunshine.
- Lights. Divers can easily be seen at night by the lights they use, and there are many options. Take a main torch and a backup and consider a set or blinking light to attach to your gear so you can be seen from behind.
- Surface Markers. There are regulations in some areas that govern the use of buoys, flags and floats so make sure you know what they are. When shore diving or in shallow water it’s prudent to tow one on the surface to keep you safe from boat traffic. When ascending to your safety stop, send up a surface marker buoy and surface close to it. Keep it inflated once you get to the surface if you need the extra visibility and remember it can be used to signal too. At night shine your torch up through it.
- Dye. Powdered dye is sold in pressure resistant tubes. If you are lost at sea, you can spread it around you vastly increasing your surface area and making you much easier to see from a helicopter for example.
- PLB. Personal location devices aren’t as expensive as you might think and are certainly worth the investment versus being lost at sea. These devices send out a signal allowing you to be located by GPS. In some locations, they are now mandatory on liveaboards.