Always know whom is to be navigating and plan accordingly. – Too many chefs spoil the broth – or in this case too many navigators will get you lost. It is important to know whom is navigating and for them to have a good idea of the dive site layout. Gather information on rock formations and points of interest that can assist with natural navigation.
Does the dive set have a map? – Map out the dive site on a dive slate if you can. Most dive centres will have maps drawn of their local dive sites. Any pro-active dive centre that operates dive master training will have many maps on the sites. See if you can gain one of these from the centre and copy it onto your slate – it might come in very handy indeed.
Use a good underwater compass – Having a compass underwater is necessary for all divers really. It is one the owning a compass but completely another knowing how to use it properly. During the PADI navigator course you’ll learn all about the lubber line and correct use of a compass – the main tip about a compass if used correctly is always to trust it. Before your dive set the bezel to ensure you know which way you are heading out on the dive – it can simply be turned 180 degrees to return you to your entry point (with many other factors to take into consideration but this is where good training comes in).If there is a discrepancy between what you feel and what your compass is telling you, go with the compass. Be sure that it is working properly before the dive and that there is no interference from undersea objects like sunken ships in the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya or anything that can be magnetic. Whilst using a compass it is increasingly difficult to maintain good underwater buoyancy control – so this requires practice also,
Measuring distance can be done in several ways such as air consumption, fin kicks or time if you are a consistent diver/swimmer. Measuring your distance to be used as a navigation tool is covered within the PADI training.
Practice your navigation skills often. Practice using your compass on land. It is easy to do squares, rectangles, set headings and reciprocals, note bearings, in short…perfect your compass skills on land. The PADI course will have you ding this prior to diving with a compass. On practice or fun dives make use of your navigation skills no matter if you are being led or not. It is always good to have an idea of where you are – certainly in location to the boat if a boat dive. It’s nice to surface to the correct boat:)