Natural navigation is something that all divers need to learn. It is true that the most accurate way of finding your way underwater is a compass; however, natural navigation has many merits. There are clues to be found underwater that will help you navigate accurately from one place to the other. Here they are:
Plan the Dive
If you are to navigate the waters successfully, you need to begin planning before you get in the water. Listen intently to the dive briefing so that you are familiar with the clues even before you actually get to see them. It is also a great idea to do some research ahead of time so that you have a basic map of the area. Sketch this map on your dive slate prior to getting in the water and you can use it as a reference. This is especially important because in the water you may get distracted by other things, such as checking your air pressure, depth and maintaining buoyancy.
Be sure to note any significant features such as a sandy patch, an archway or a reef wall. It is important that you and your dive buddy have a plan of how you will navigate the area. Find out at what depths these features can be found, because it is entirely possible to miss them even though you are going in the correct direction.
It is also important to find out information about tides and currents as you plan to dive. It is always a good idea to start the dive by swimming against the current and then come back with it since you will be more tired on your way back. This assumes that you will be ascending at the same point where you descended.
Dive the Plan
- When descending, look around and note the features that stand out so you can recognize them when you come back.
- As you begin to move away swim according to your dive plan. It is a good idea for you to swim from one recognizable feature to another. Be sure to mark each feature on your slate as you go as well as its depth and the approximate distance.
- As you pass each feature look back so that you can recognize it from the other direction.
- If you have them, follow the natural contours, such as slopes, walls, wrecks and the like. They will make it easier for you to retrace your steps.