Getting Lost at Night
by Robert Lower



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 line.

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

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