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Underwater Navigation

Underwater Navigation

Because you can't tell east from west by looking at the sun when you're underwater, here's how to navigate using natural markers or a compass. Always check tide tables before diving, check for landmarks - an island, rock outcropping or sand trap - to orient yourself during and after your dive.


Knowing where you are and more importantly how to get to where you want, can be a real challenge underwater and you can avoid the embarrassment of missing the reef, not finding the wreck and of course the shame of surfacing somewhere out there!

When you're underwater, knowing where you are and where you're going comes in handy, especially if you're looking for that beautiful reef that you've heard all about. The PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty course will help you become a pro at finding your way underwater. Navigation increases the effectiveness of a dive plan, as you can organise where you are going before descend into the depths.

Natural Navigation

Steps:

  1. Check tide tables before starting a shore dive.
  2. Note your surroundings. Check for landmarks - an island, rock outcropping or sand trap - to orient yourself during and after your dive.
  3. Start your dive by moving into the current so that you can glide back in with the current at the end of the dive when you're tired.
  4. Look for bottom features to help orient yourself during the dive.
  5. Keep in mind that ripples on a sandy bottom run parallel to the shoreline.
  6. Remember that the depth usually increases away from shoreline. Check your depth gauge frequently.

Tips:
Many scuba guide books have maps or aerial photographs of dive sites to assist with navigation.

Compass Navigation

Steps:

  1. Wear a dive compass on your right wrist as you would a watch.
  2. Understand that a dive compass indicates direction with a dial divided into 360 degree marks and a magnetic needle that always points north.
  3. Hold your arm with the compass at right angle in front of you, where you can see the face.
  4. Stretch your left arm out in front of you, and grab it at the elbow with your compass hand. This position will keep the compass steady, level and visible.
  5. Align the needle with the direction you wish to travel if you're using a dive compass marked in the counterclockwise fashion, which most are.
  6. Keep in mind, north is at 0 degrees, east is at 90 degrees, south is at 180 degrees and west is at 270 degrees. To travel south, turn in the water until the needle points at the 180-degree mark.
  7. Look for an object in the direction you wish to travel and swim toward it while glancing at the compass periodically.

Tips:

  • On a traditional hiking compass, the degree markings increase from 0 to 360 clockwise around the face. Most dive compasses are marked from 0 to 360 in a counterclockwise direction. This is because the compass is fixed to your wrist, and not held in your hand where it can be easily rotated.
  • With the compass on your right arm, the north mark is aligned with the strap on the outer side of your wrist. This mark is fixed, but the compass may have a set of course brackets marked on a rotating face.
  • Analog dive compasses must be held level, or the needle will drag and cause inaccuracies.

During your PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty course, you'll learn underwater navigation dive procedures, techniques, planning, organization and potential problems. You'll also be introduced to natural navigation, underwater patterns, distance estimation and further your compass navigation skills. You'll put these into practice during your three open water dives.
compass for Underwater Navigation
Whether using a compass or your natural surroundings, you as a scuba diver, can learn to master your marine environments through the skills of navigation. The ability to navigate into fascinating new destinations enhances your diving adventure and increases your level of confidence.

During your PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty course, you'll learn underwater navigation dive procedures, techniques, planning, organization and potential problems. You'll also be introduced to natural navigation, underwater patterns, distance estimation and further your compass navigation skills. You'll put these into practice during your three open water dives. Your Adventures In Diving Navigation Adventure Dive may count toward your Specialty course at instructor discretion. This Specialty also counts toward your Master Scuba Diver certification. More details about PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty course: http://www.padi.com/scuba/padi-courses/diver-level-courses/view-all-padi...

Overall Warnings:

  • Avoid diving at a site with strong currents. Check with local dive shops or guides for hazards.
  • Scuba diving is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity.
Last Updated on Friday 17th December 2010