Displaying The Diver's Flag At Night

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

This is an electronic reprint of an article that appeared in Sources  (May/June, 1991, 51). This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author. This article is made available as a service to the diving community by the author and may be distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit use.   

All rights reserved.

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Most states require divers to mark their position under the water with a diver's flag on the surface. At night, some form of illumination is desirable. The trick is to inform people that a diving operation is in progress without having every boater with too much body anti-freeze racing to your dive flag to investigate. Since photochemical light sticks often attract boaters, we no longer use them on the surface. 

We mount the dive flag about 4 feet above the center of the inner tube. For night diving, we drop a 1/2" x 24" piece of PVC pipe over the flag shaft. The PVC tube helps stiffen the dive flag shaft and provides a platform to mount a Tekna mini-light aimed upwards to illuminate the flag. Below this is a yellow flashing strobe. (Made by painting the white portion of the strobe with yellow model airplane paint.)  Since a white flashing strobe is an international distress signal, it is inappropriate for divers to display on the surface in other than an emergency situation. Yellow lights to the lay public mean caution and to knowledgeable boaters a yellow light indicates a submerged operation. Although commercial and educated boaters will most likely ignore a small flashing red, green or white light on a float, some recreational boaters could mistake white, red or green flashing lights as navigational markers or marina entrance buoys.  

The extra space on the PVC shaft is filled with yellow bicycle reflectors and pieces of 3 M marine reflecting tape.  After the night dive, the shaft is removed for convenient storage.

This inexpensive, easy to prepare assembly (shown below) illuminates the dive flag and provides a visible rally point for potential separated divers without attracting boat traffic. 

 Dive Flag Illumination Device

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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2004 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

All rights reserved.

Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education