Getting Lost at Night
Ever been on a night dive, or any
dive for that matter, and find yourself thinking “Where in the world am
I?!” This all to common situation is one that I and a multitude of other
divers worldwide have had to very patiently learn to prevent and cope
with on various night diving adventures.
The most memorable experience (and
terrifying) was a shore dive a friend and I decided to do at the Halona
Blow Hole, on the island of Oahu, at 11:30pm. We were relatively
inexperienced at diving that particular site and had only a vague idea
of how to navigate it. After about an hour dive we found ourselves
running drastically low on air and lost somewhere underwater. The
current by this time had picked up and was beginning to pull me away
from the entry point, which was also the only was to get out.
After a one and a half hour surface
swim I finally managed to get out of the water, tired and ready to never
go diving again. Luckily---I am still diving!
The moral of the story is that had
we known how to properly navigate the site we would never have found
ourselves in that particular situation. In diving, and night diving
especially, it is important to take a few extra steps towards making a
dive perfectly navigable.
First: You’re going to want to take
a compass heading to find out which way is into shore.
Second: Take note of any bright
lights, lighted buildings, Street lights, etc. This will help you
determine where you are in case you need to surface to get your
bearings. Set up a visible light on the surface if there are none.
Third: Dive along ledges, ridges,
or a reference point so that navigating is as easy as following a dotted
Fourth: Make sure to turn around
with ample air in your tank so that should you become lost or
disorientated there will be enough air in your tank to finish the dive.
Remember, successful night diving
navigation is just following a few simple rules, and it can be a whole
lot of fun when done properly. I recommend anyone interested in
learning how to master this art to either take the PADI night diver
course, or to read the navigation article in the August 2002 issue of
Alert Diver Magazine.
by Robert Lower