Diving in caverns or caves requires training, skill, the appropriate mindset and proper equipment. (Wow! So much equipment.) Finding places to stow this equipment and yet be able to access it becomes the quest of every cave diver. One such piece of equipment is the line marker.
Line markers consist of line arrows, cookies and other non-directional markers such as the REM or clothespins. They are routinely used in complex navigation at the Full Cave level, and at lower levels for things like lost line or lost buddy searches. They can also be used anytime there is a distinct lack of directional markers on a mainline in less-frequented systems.
Regardless of use, having them with you and being able to access them easily is important. In addition to commercial solutions, there are several DIY solutions as well. So, let’s look at some different ways we can stow them.
Keeping line markers loose in the bottom of a pocket simply doesn’t work. Many line markers tend to float, and shift around. Being able to easily find them means having them all together.
Since line markers are meant to be attached to the line, we can take advantage of that feature to hold them all together. While we could use a piece of cave line, it would get unmanageably long due to how they would have to fasten to be secure. So, most divers choose to use either a short length of bungee cord or surgical tubing.
When choosing materials, there are several considerations.
First is the appropriate size. Either bungee or surgical tubing should be slightly larger than the hole and slot in the marker. That way the marker snugly fits on without moving, yet by stretching the material (making it smaller in diameter), it can be easily removed.
Second is the quality of the material itself. Marine-grade bungee will typically last much longer than other bungee types. Silicone surgical tubing with a thicker wall will greatly outlast latex types or thin-walled types. Either bungee or surgical tubing will perform well, but depending on how/where you choose to stow the markers, one may work better than the other in a given situation.
Ways to stow
Among the most popular ways to stow line arrows are:
Attaching the storage line to a bolt snap. This can be clipped off in a pocket, on a D-ring, or other locations for ease of access.
Attaching the storage line directly to a chest D-ring.
Attaching the storage line directly to a piece of equipment such as a primary light, DPV, or camera.
So, let’s look at some simple ways to create each type of holder.
Bolt Snap Holder
Select an appropriate-size bolt snap for the environment. Cold water environments may require larger sizes than warm water environments. Stainless steel is the preferred material, with brass being an acceptable alternate. Ones made for in-water use will also have stainless springs and will greatly outlast those with mild steel springs.
Select either bungee or surgical tubing of the correct size. A length of 15-23 cm/6-9 in will be sufficient for most divers. If using bungee, it’s a good idea to singe the ends with a flame after cutting to prevent excessive fraying.
Attach one end of the bungee or tubing to the bolt snap. You can either fold it over the eye of the snap and use zip-ties to fasten it, or you can tie it. Note that tying it on will require more material.
Create a stop at the other end to both prevent the markers from sliding off. This will also make it easier to grasp and pull against the bolt snap to stretch the material for ease of removal/replacement of the line marker. This can be done by folding the material back on itself and securing with a zip-tie, or you can tie an overhand knot in the end.
Chest D-ring Holder
Select either bungee or surgical tubing of the correct diameter. A length of 10-15 cm/4-6 in will be sufficient for this type of holder.
Choose the side you wish to attach the holder to. This may be based on comfort, ease of access, your equipment configuration, or other considerations.
Attach one end of the material to the side of a chest D-ring on the harness by tying it on or folding the material over the D-ring and securing with a zip-tie. Tying it on will require more length. Whether attaching it to the left or right chest D-ring, it should be attached to the inner side for ease of access.
Create a stop at the other end to both prevent the markers from sliding off and to make it easier to grasp and pull against the bolt snap to stretch the material for ease of removal/replacement of the line marker. This can be done by folding the material back on itself and securing with a zip-tie, or you can tie an overhand knot in the end.
Equipment-mounted line holder
For some lights or cameras, simply following the directions above for the chest D-ring mounted holder will work. Just choose a mounting location that will allow ease of access without creating an entanglement hazard or getting in the way of operating the equipment.
For mounting on DPVs or other equipment, attaching a length of tubing or bungee with a knot or zip-tie in the middle may allow you to attach several markers with easy access. In other cases, simply attaching the bolt-snap marker holder to a D-ring or other attachment point may work better.
For mounting on a primary light, a loop of material with a tail may also be used. The loop is fastened around the body of the light, with the tail extending. A stop at the end of the tail provides purchase for stretching the material if needed while removing/replacing markers. For this mounting location, a very stretchy, less stiff material is preferred.
That’s just a few ideas on how to create your own line marker holder. Of course, there are also commercial solutions out there. Have a better idea on how to stow line markers? Please share it in the comments section below!
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