The new dive adventurer is similar to being a passenger on a long ride in a car. You get to looking around and you have arrived at the destination and have no clue of the route taken to get there. The first couple of lessons you may be fine focusing on your breathing, clearing your ears, clearing of the mask and the awesome joy of the underwater adventure. The sooner you start working on your navigation skills the better, especially if you’re learning in a lake that has visibility of twenty feet or less. Because just assured as you are reading this, you will be looking around and in an instant your instructor has disappeared into the darkness. Don’t panic just stop for a minute and relax. The instructor will be back for you and if he or she doesn’t come back ascend slowly to the surface because they haven’t taken you far from the boat or shore. It happens don’t worry about it, that is when you realize you need to sharpen your navigation skills.
There are some simple rules to navigation that will make it easier to find the way back to the point of entry. The first and most important is to have a dive plan before you and your dive buddy enter the water, decide who will be the lead diver. Follow the lead diver; let that person concentrate on navigating while the other diver focuses on time, air usage, distance and depth. If you are not the leader it is still important to know your dive plan for emergencies or if you and your dive buddy get separated you can get back to the entry point safely.
If the point of entry is a boat follow the mooring or the anchor line down to the bottom and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. From there follow the dive plan your group has put together. If the entry point is from the shore, swim out to the point you have planned to make the decent. Again get familiar with the surroundings and follow the dive plan.
Navigation underwater isn’t any more difficult than above ground navigation. Look for markers, rock formations, sand bars and distinguishing corals of any kind or a tree stump. Anything that is memorable can aid you and your dive buddy in returning to the point of entry. These are just a few tips to make the dive more enjoyable and less stressful.