Sunday, August 28, 2016

Scuba Navigation Specialist

It has been a long time since I have done any orienteering.  Probably 30 years ago in the Boy Scouts.  Today, I signed on to try navigation under water.  It is one thing to hold a compass setting and know how many feet are in the steps you take.  It was quite another for me to try to keep it straight that 25 fin kicks are roughly 100 feet, hold a compass heading, maintain my buoyancy and keep track of everything else that is involved in diving.  It was hard enough not to get distracted by the fish.

Going in a straight line and taking a reciprocal heading was not too bad.  Going in a square was a little trickier, but I managed.  When I tried to go on a 70 degree heading for 50 feet then a 110 degree heading for 50 feet and then do the reciprocal heading, things got crazy.

The final test was the toughest and as I had kicked up a bunch of silt during my multiple attempts, the final attempt was with the assistant instructor and I just had to get within 10 feet of my check points.  Starting out on a 40 degree heading for 150 feet, I got the first marker, then 250 degrees for 200 feet to the second marker (we got close), then 90 degrees for 100 feet to the third marker (we got close), finally 180 degrees back to shore and we were within 10 feet of the final target.

I learned a lot about navigating based on natural features, but the compass navigation was really cool for me to experience.  Fortunately I bought a console with a pocket window for heading which makes navigation much easier.  I think I would have really struggled with a magnetic compass built into a diving watch.

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