When setting out to buy your own gear, it can be overwhelming with all the things you "should" get and those you "need." In the end, you don't need anything as most places have rental gear. Some will nickel and dime you for a snorkel, weights, mask ect. At Coconut Tree Divers you pay $35 per tank and that includes all your gear. If you have your own gear then the dives are $30 per tank. The point being that you can rent the gear, but it is nice to have your own.
Where does a reel end up in the things you need list? For us it is quite high as we do drift dives on a regular basis. For cave, tec, and wreck divers it's a must. In our divemaster trainee program we make sure they know how to deploy them without being pulled to the surface by the surface marker buoy. If you are headed down to do your PADI Divemaster course with us, you will need one. It can be as simple as a finger reel, but you will need one. Gone are the days of wrapping 20ft of line to a 2 lb. weight. It's gone from our shop anyhow. If you end up getting separated from your divegroup it is not a bad idea to have your own signaling device. In a high boat traffic area you are better off sending the marker buoy to the surface before you reach it and hopefully avoiding getting run over. It happens, and having a signal device floating on the surface is no guarantee that some yahoo will not head your way. At one point Rags had to push off the oncoming boat whose captain was paying no attention. And yes she did have an SMB deployed. For the most part, boat captains in Roatan respect them for what they represent, Divers Below. That’s my case for purchasing a reel and marker buoy. This review boils down to an endorsement of one that has been with me for over 4 years.
The Dive Rite Classic Safety Reel can be purchased at; DiveGearExpress for under $45. It has over 100 ft of line. You can now choose the color from white or orange for the line. There’s nothing better than an orange and blue reel, is there? I’m rooting for the Florida Gators tonight against the Volunteers.
What you might be careful with is the lock down screw. It’s what keeps the reel from unraveling. If you unscrew it too much it will come right off. It's a pain when it comes out all the way as it's made of plastic. After a couple of time of going back in the plastic gets chewed up. Luckily you can purchase them for about a $1. Apparently this has been addressed in the newer version of the DR Classic Safety Reel. The other consideration is for the actual SMB. How you attach it will help you stay streamlined and keep it from getting caught up while diving sites like Canyon Reef and Hole in the Wall. I use a wrist band and attach it to the reel itself.
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