A diver diving with us the other day asked me a question which a lot of people seem to ask… How do you do it? lead a dive and know exactly where you are going and know how to get back to the anchor?
Well it made me want to write up this blog and give an overview of how we do it.
The main 2 things that you need when diving is know where you are and where you are going, to do this you need to have good observation skills and know how to use your compass. This is what we cover on the PADI Underwater Navigation Specialty course.
Ok, so how do you improve your Navigation skills? There are many ways but here are some tips to get you started…
- If there is a map of the site you are diving then use it! try to remember the main points of interest mapped so that you know where you are, there may even be bearings…
- Before starting your dive take a compass bearing of the shore, boat etc vs the direction of travel, this will get you out of trouble if you get lost.
- Use natural Navigation, start looking as soon as you start your descent, for example, is the anchor near a point of interest you can use, a rock or a wall that will guide you back… as you follow the dive site, make turns that you can remember so that when you are on your way back you know where to turn. Another way of navigating is to pick a path that you follow such as a wall, a cut on a wall or special rock formation, look ahead and pick a point to aim to, you will need good visibility for this..
- Go slow… not only will you miss a lot of what’s there to see but the faster you go, the more chance of getting lost.
- Trust and use your compass… know how to use it and take it on every dive, I personally now use a digital compass built in on my suunto and it makes it so much easier.
- Stay away from sand only sites… most of the divers will end up going round in circles without a compass, if you have to go across sand, then my advise is to check the compass regularly to check you are still on track.
- If you are comfortable with Navigation, Don’t be scared of exploring beyond the known areas, but make sure that if you wonder outside of the dive site that you have information on currents, boat traffic etc…