Why and how to use a freediving buoy – Learn the right float and line setup
A freediving buoy is an important piece of the freedive gear that everyone should use who dives in open water. This article summarizes the reasons why you should consider buying an inflatable buoy for freediving and features the best floats for professional and hobby purposes, as well as for spearfishing.
Why you should use a freediving buoy?
Freediving is a sport where dangerous situations can form in instant. Most of them are preventable if the divers and well-trained and know their limits, while others can be avoided by using extra accessories that make your dives safer and more comfortable.
The main reasons why you should consider using a high-visibility buoy for freediving:
- helps to stay visible for boats and other people around
- provides you with a resting platform
- can store some essential items you might need between dives
- the attached line prevents getting disorientated underwater
Visibility – the main safety aspect
Being visible in the water is a key factor especially in areas where there is a big boat traffic. Most wetsuits that freedivers and spearfishermen use are black or camouflage. These help the diver to stay unnoticeable underwater, but increase the risk of getting injured by passing boats on the surface.
Watch this video to learn how important is using buoy while you are diving!
Therefore, using an inflatable freediving buoy with dive flag is crucial (in some places it is already a must). These signs clearly tell the boats and people around that there is a diver in the water so they can avoid cruising through the area, or can approach slowly if necessary. Most freediving floats are red, but highly visible bright yellow and orange colors are also perfect. They ensure at least 300m/0.18 mile visibility.
Resting platform – increases comfort
No matter it is a training or competition, after a deep dive you feel exhausted. Having a freediving buoy comes very handy in these situations because you can rest on it. You don’t have to keep finning in order to stay afloat and close to your buddies, but can rest instead. Like this, you will save energy and can avoid muscle fatigue. Relaxing your body is important during surface intervals in order to restore the oxygen level which is crucial for safe diving. Choose a big, stable freediving float with flat design and handles on it, like the Mares freediving buoy.
Storage compartment and handles – practical features
For short fun-dive sessions, smaller surface marker buoys are also suitable, but if you head out to open water with a group of divers, use a professional freediving buoy. They are not only sturdier and more stable even in wavy conditions, but most of them feature handles you can grab as well as a storage compartment too. The handles ensure secure holding while resting, while the closable storage compartment can store not only the unused part of the line, but also your valuables like smartphone or car key, as well as other freediving necessities such as a back-up mask, straps, extra rope, first aid kit, or a bottle of water.
Helps to set up the freediving line – for maximum safety
During open-water diving session when your goal is to get deep, it is crucial to use a freediving line that prevents getting disorientated in terms of direction and depth. Setting up a line is challenging in deep waters where the sea bottom is not visible, but using a freediving float you can easily and simply set up the line.
How to set up the freediving buoy and line
In order to set up the freediving float and line correctly, you will need the following items:
- Freediving buoy
- Nylon strap or weight belt
- Heavy-duty carabiners
Steps of setting up the freediving buoy and line
- Fixing the float: it is easy to secure the freediving float when the depth of your dive equals the depth of the water. Like this, you can simply just anchor to a rock, or the attached weight will keep the whole setup in place. The situation is a bit more difficult when you dive from a boat in open water when the water is too deep. In this case, you need to attach the buoy to the boat. To do this, get a rope (not the one you will use as the line). Attach it to the D-ring on the side of the buoy, and the other end to the boat by tying bowline knot!
- Prepare the freediving line: the line you will follow when immersing and resurfacing should be a non-stretching thick rope that won’t get tangled easily. The best is to mark it in at least every 5m/16ft so you will always know the depth without checking it on your freediving watch. Fix securely one end of the line to the D-ring on the bottom of the freediving buoy by using a big and strong carabiner.
- Put together the bottom weight! To ensure that the line remains straight, you need to add weight to it. You can use normal diving weights that you place in a weight bag, on durable nylon buckle or a freediving belt. Attach it to the end of the line using a heavy-duty carabiner and make sure that the knot can’t get loose. Some freedivers use a weightlifting plate which can be an alternative solution, but it is more complicated to handle. The proper way is placing a bottom plate too before the weights. You can see this setup on competitions mainly. The bottom plate has holes around the edge to fix tags on it. The competing athletes have to bring up one of them up to the judges, otherwise the dive is not valid.
- Double check the knots and carabiners: before releasing the line and weights to the desired depth, make sure that all the knots are secure and the carabiners are closed. For maximum safety, attach yourself to the line by using a freediving lanyard.
The best 3 freediving buoys
Freediver all agree that using a buoy is essential in open water no matter you are a beginner or professional. Depending on your diving style and extra needs, you can choose between various models.
Here are our top picks for hobby divers, instructors who need it for professional use and we recommend one for spearfishing too.
DiveSmart surface marker buoy
If you are an occasional freediver who does causal coastal exploration and some fun dives, use a basic surface marker that is small yet highly visible. An affordable inflatable buoy providing you with constant visibility in heavily boating areas and letting people know that there are divers in the water. The lightweight design allows easy storing, so you can take it anywhere with you, even traveling.
Sopras Sub freediving float
The Sopras Sub inflatable training buoy comes with all the features that freedivers need on open water training sessions. It has D-rings, handles and storage compartment. This sturdy yet extremely lightweight float features an oral inflator and over-pressure valve. Excellent choice for instructors, but also for hobby divers since the Sopras Sub buoy comes with a Florida legal-size dive flag.
Seac spearfishing buoy
Should you look for a buoy that you can use not only for freediving but also for spearfishing, the is the best choice! Spearfishermen carry more gear than freedivers and have some extra needs, therefore manufacturers came up with a multi-functional float that is not only a surface marker buoy, but comes with various storing functions including pockets and Velcro strap making carrying your spearguns and other accessories such as knife, lines etc… effortless. The special design provides the diver with the possibility of resting on it if needed, but also offers a secure place for the fish. The Seac Sea Mate inflatable boat features 7 D-rings for easy anchoring and fixing additional equipment.
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AG is a certified diver and freediver who started to explore the underwater world in 2005. He enjoys sharing his experience of the best freediving destinations and equipment tips as well. Follow him on IG!