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How to make a UCI Marker Buoy

UCI has designed, invented and created many techniques over our 35 plus years. The UCI Marker Buoy is one of our inventions that came about over years of using every diver's marker buoy on the market, finding they unwound easily, were too large, and had other issues that made your recoveries very challenging and sometimes dangerous. It's important as Underwater Criminal Investigators that we mark our evidence when we find it. Unfortunately, store bought marker buoys can cost a lot of money. Add to that all their issues, there needed to be another way. So, UCI went to work to perfect our marker buoy. You can make it yourself with very little money. It's small enough to put in a BC pocket out of your way and when you release it and it surfaces, it does not unwind easily.


The things you will need to make your own marker buoy are:

  • Sander

  • Cup

  • Jigsaw

  • Paint

  • 6-8 ounce weight

  • Line

  • Pencil

  • Wood


The following are some simply steps in making your own marker buoy:


Step One - First, lay a glass or coffee mug down on a piece of wood. The wood you use can be just about any type just as long as it's solid wood and not laminated or a type of plywood. They will come apart when wet. I don't like using pressure treated wood either because it's not as buoyant. I make two circles about 2-3 inches apart using a glass or coffee mug. I then draw two arcs over to the two circles using the glass to make the arcs as well. This gives you the basic shape of your marker buoy.


Step Two - I then cut out the shape with a jigsaw making sure I don't cut off a finger.


Step Three - Next, I sand the edges very thoroughly making sure my edges are very smooth. This will insure that when the line is let out it will not get stuck on a sharp edge.


Step four - Then I paint the buoy with yellow florescent paint. You can use another color but I find yellow is very easy to see and does what I need it to do. I try to prop the buoy up at an angle so the paint runs off and does not pool and stick to another surface . After one side is dry, I turn it over and do the other side.


Step Five - I then tie a thin nylon line to the buoy using a simple knot that will hold. The amount of line I wrap depends on my depth. Look around your area and see what max. depth you will have to deal with when making recoveries. That max depth, plus 10-20 more feet would be a suggested length of line. Another advantage of making your own is you might not ever get below 50 feet in your area and many commercially made buoys come with 100 feet or more line.



Step Six - I then tie a weight to the other end of the line. I find heavy sinkers all the time when I'm diving and I keep them for when I'm making buoys. The larger you make your buoys, the more negative weight you need. I will also use light weights that are designed for weight belts, like one and two pound weights.


There you have it. The Mike Berry do-it-yourself marker buoy design. I have smaller ones that will fit in a BC pocket and larger ones that I use on my boat or from the surface for marking targets.

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