Here in Bali, we are lucky enough to have excellent visibility and easy sloping dive sites that make underwater navigation easy. Unfortunately, that is not always the case!
- Set your compass on the surface before you descend. You have two choices depending on the conditions and the dive site you are at. You can:
- Set your compass so that you always know where the shore is. This is great for shore dives or for dives close to the beach.
- Set your compass towards the boat. This is good if you are planning to dive “out and back”.
- Face your direction of travel as you descend. This reduces confusion-especially in low vis situations.
- As you descend, note your depth and look for a reference point – big rocks, or unusually shaped/coloured coral are great things to notice. Unfortunately, that fish sitting on that rock may not be there when you return, so make sure to choose something that won’t move.
- If you are relatively new to a dive site, keep your path simple. Don’t zig zag too much across the dive site. As you dive the location more, your list of reference points will grow, but for the first couple of times, the easiest way to not get lost is to swim directly out and back.
- Lastly, trust your compass! Unless you have set it incorrectly, it is very unlikely to be wrong. J
For more information on navigation and how to master the art of direction underwater, PADI offer the Underwater Navigation Specialty. A great course for those who love working out patterns, or, who always like to know where they are underwater.