Whilst at the Blue Wild Expo back in February we came across 3DBouy – a new concept Diver Flag aiming to improve safety for both divers and boaters alike. Fascinated by the concept we recently had a chance to chat with Sarah Bingham, a Vice President with 3DBouy.
DeeperBlue.com: First, a little background information, Sarah. You told us at The Blue Wild Expo that the 3DBuoy concept was a concept developed by your father, Dave Bingham, a veteran of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You mentioned a near-tragedy that happened to a diver that was close to your family, and that a new Florida Law that permitted a panel display of the Red and White “Diver Down” symbol, rather than just a flag, spurred your father to design the 3DBuoy. How long did you, your father and Robert Carmichael, (President and CEO of Brownie’s Marine Group in Fort Lauderdale), work on the concept?
Sarah Bingham: For many years my father, along with Robert Carmichael (CEO of Brownies Marine Group), collaborated together to create a practical diver-down signaling device that would be visible from all angles. They wanted to create a safer environment for divers after personally experiencing “close calls” and learning of other divers being critically injured by boaters in south Florida. The final concept of 3DBuoy became a reality around the fall of 2013 and the team started working diligently to perfect a commercially viable design with the assistance of Conny Klimenko, the previous Vice President of Zodiac and Sevylor.
In 2014, Florida passed a new law stating divers could use a traditional flag or 3 or 4 flat-sided dive buoy.
In early 2015 we partnered with our distributor Brownies Marine Group, to launch the first production model of the 3DBuoy invention. The buoy will be hitting the market and will be on display in premium dive shops throughout Florida early to mid-April. Deliverable quantities will be available toward the middle or end of May. The 3DBuoy team is extremely passionate about creating a safer environment for divers and we truly believe our buoy will do just that!
DB: You hit on a unique, three-panel design atop a cylinder…what was the thought process that led to this unique shape? In our video interview, you explained to our viewers that it is more aerodynamic, not “catching” the wind as much as a 4-sided design would. What else would you like to share regarding the unique shape?
SB: We decided on the triangular shape because it is far more aerodynamic, equally visible, requires less counter-balance to remain high and upright, and also because the new Florida State law requires a “dive buoy” to be 3 or 4 flat sides.
DB: The 3DBuoy appears to be much larger (and heavier), in comparison to the more traditional spearfishing floats our European divers are familiar with, and lobster buoys, those fiberglass rods stuck in a Styrofoam ball we are accustomed to seeing here in Florida. What has your testing and field trials shown you regarding the weight, height and maneuverability of the 3DBuoy in comparison to smaller signaling devices? How much more visible is the 3DBuoy than a traditional lobster flag?
SB: The buoy sits 36 inches off the water line and can be seen in most weather conditions from approximately 1,000 feet away. The color-contrasting scheme, bright yellow and red, also make the buoy highly visible. While it appears to be larger and heavier than traditional dive flags and spearfishing floats, the inflatable design is highly buoyant and can be towed with minimal resistance in the water due to it’s rounded bottom and clever water-ballast counter weight system.
DB: There is one addition to the 3DBuoy that is markedly different than other dive markers currently being offered…namely the ability to insert a light or strobe in the top. Describe how this works and what your company sees are the advantages.
SB: The Florida law currently fails to require divers to use a lighting device while diving at night which creates an extremely unsafe environment. Therefore, many divers have used a wide variety of lighting configurations that have conflicted with Coast Guard regulations. A compartment at the top of the buoy was created to insert a lighting device. If used properly, the light will illuminate the buoy from within, making the buoy highly visible in darkness. Each buoy will come standard with an LED light.
DB: Additional features include a robust grab line around the entire buoy and a number of attachment points for catch bags and lines. What else have you included that other dive flags just don’t have?
SB: In addition to the grab line, stainless steel d-rings for the catch bag and tow line, the buoy also offers a storage compartment for a fishing license or car keys.
DB: Robust gear that can take abuse and can be deployed quickly is always in demand by diving instructors, spears and frequent divers. What are some other features of the 3DBuoy, and how hard is it to set up and break down?
SB: The buoy is extremely easy and convenient for all types of divers. The water ballast can be filled using a water hose, bottle, or cup and the air chamber can easily be inflated orally by using the one-way valve. Once the one-way valve is removed, the buoy quickly deflates and compresses down for easy storage.
DB: When will the 3DBuoy be available in the US Market, Internationally? What is the price point and where does a reader go to order one?
SB: Brownies Marine Group will be distributing the buoys to dive shops throughout Florida early to mid-April. The buoy will retail for $126.00. For 3DBuoy distribution updates please check out www.3dbuoy.com or the 3DBuoy Facebook page. Interested dealers and distributors are urged to contact [email protected] for more information.
DB: What would you like us to know that hasn’t been told in other articles? If our readers are looking for a different dive flag, what makes this one the best choice?
SB: The current one dimensional dive flag is sub-standard in today’s diving community. We have all known of the deficiency for decades now. The challenge of 360-degree visibility combined with keeping the flag high, upright, towable, stow-able, and commercially viable at all levels has finally been achieved. Boaters and Diver’s alike will benefit by this significant invention coming to market. 3DBuoy offers 360 degrees of high visibility in both day and night time operations. Its lightweight aerodynamic design, unique features, contrasting color scheme, and stow ability make 3DBuoy easily the best choice for divers wanting to stay safe and visible on the water.