As media coverage of abandoned charter divers increases, it appears that divers are finally embracing locator technologies and adding them to their must-have gear lists.
While certainly not all dive emergencies involve charter error, there are plenty of reasonable scenarios where having a marine rescue radio could make the difference between life and death, especially in areas prone to current, limited visibility conditions, and of course, at night.
To that end, Nautilus Lifeline and DiveAlert are displaying their signature products at DEMA 2015 in Orlando, Florida.
The Nautilus Lifeline product is a VHF/GPS marine rescue radio — a small, hand-held waterproof communications device designed to keep divers and boaters in touch with each other on the surface. The design includes three-button operation, a digital readout screen, and a waterproof splash guard. It retails for US$299.
The green button allows you to chat on any VHF radio channel just as you would any handheld radio. The orange button immediately defaults to communicating on the international distress frequency, Channel 16. The red button broadcasts a digital GPS signal up to 4,000 square miles. On half-battery, the signal will broadcast continuously for 24 hours. The digital readout allows the diver to read and report their GPS position rather than being forced to hit the wide area emergency broadcast, which can be helpful in non-emergency situations like having surfaced in the boat’s blind spot unexpectedly.
The various models of DiveAlert allow divers to audibly signal their buddies under water and/or signal the boat from the surface. The DiveAlert connects to your BCD inflator hose inline between the low pressure connection and the BCD inflator connection. Pressing the button sends air through the mechanism and out a horn-shaped speaker. Some models perform only underwater or above water while the DiveAlert Plus (Version 2) provides both options. A partial press alerts underwater while a full press alerts above water.
Product Manager Dan Warter explained that they now utilize 316-L Stainless Steel, which significantly lowers corrosion on and extending the life of the diaphragm.
DiveAlert also offers its SMB.LED lighted surface market buoy. A clever combination of “safety sausage” and LED lights, the buoy allows divers to mark their position, even at night. The unit includes a manual inflate as well as an overflow valve and manual deflate. Made of 400 Denier polyurethane coated nylon, the various models provide approximately 40 pounds of lift. — By Dr. Branon A. Edwards