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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Finding your path underwater-Navigation for scuba divers

Diver training can vary enormously depending on where you train, who your instructor is and what they believe are the important skills for you to master.

Underwater Navigation is taught in the PADI Open Water Course but it is only really "touched on" and not explored in detail. Divers must navigate a straight line on the surface and then a reciprocal heading underwater. Ask divers if they know what a Bezel is and the majority will look back at you with a blank expression.
diver with compass swimming into shark's mouth
And yet... we are telling these divers that they are now certified to go Scuba Diving with a similarly
qualified diver. Have we really given them the tools they need to dive without a guide?

Over this series of blogs, we will look at Navigation techniques that divers (of all level) can employ to find their way around a dive site.

But first...

Why is Navigation an important skill to master?


When we dive, we like to go and see the points of interest. This could be wrecks, reefs, caves, certain flora or fauna or anything that strikes your interest, really.

Without navigational skills, we would be just swimming aimlessly, unable to find said attractions. On land we use our GPS or Tom Toms, don't we? These do not work so well underwater, so we use other means but the basic need is still there. We need navigational skills to find our route.

If we know where we are going on a dive, we can conserve breathing gas because we can find our way directly to the attractions, rather than wasting air going in the wrong direction. This will then give us more time to enjoy what we went down there to see.

For the same reasons, we can save on precious minutes eating into our No Decompression Limits.

diver swim on the surface
Avoiding Long Surface Swims  is another benefit of being able to navigate underwater. It is a lot more tiring (and boring) swimming on the surface than gliding underwater, so if you have the skills to navigate to and from the attraction underwater, you should have a lot more fun!

Divers that know where they are going tend to experience Less Anxiety and Confusion, which is always a benefit when scuba diving. We have enough to deal with underwater without unnecessary stress in the mix. Read more about the stress spiral here.

So, navigation is a very important skill that we should learn and practice often. 

Don't get lost, check back next week when we will start to look at Navigational Techniques you can employ on your dives.

We will point you in the right direction!
Compass needle pointing NNE