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Manta Divers, July, 2015 Underwater Navigation Specialty

Greetings Divers!

  We just came back from a fun weekend at Haigh Quarry in Kankakee, IL.  There were a total of thirteen divers in the Manta group, most just out to have some fun and log a few more dives.  The others were taking classes. During the course of the two days, we certified two new open water divers and a brand new navigation specialist. It is always nice to certify new divers, but it is especially gratifying to have divers come back and learn some more, pushing themselves beyond open water level.  Like the Rescue Diver course, the Underwater Navigator course is one of the more challenging, but once a diver masters this skill, all waters are open to him. I now turn the newsletter over to Mike to share what it takes to become an underwater navigator.

Underwater Navigator course consists of an evening reviewing the course manual followed by at least three open water dives.  As Lisa stated the Finding a landmarkcourse is challenging but in the end you can dive with confidence knowing where you are and where you’re going.  In the classroom, we review the Underwater Navigation Manual.  You may recall what was learned about navigation in the Open Water course, and how you upped the ante in the advanced Open Water class, but there is much more to learn. In the Under Water Navigation Manual, we get deeper into distance estimation, natural navigation techniques, underwater patterns, compass navigation, site location and navigational aids. The classroom review and discussion really fine tunes the understanding of the skills needed to be a great underwater navigator.  Then we go to the open water to apply what we’ve learned.

I like teaching the underwater navigation at Haigh Quarry because the facility offers interesting opportunities to complete tasks associated with dives one to three. For instance, on dive one, we have to do distance /time-estimation swim, navigate straight line /reciprocal using both natural and compass navigation as well as navigate a box pattern underwater using your compass.  For the distance /time estimation, we used the underwater wooden platform just north of the roadway at Haigh. There are marking on the rope that connects the platform to the rock crusher that indicates 100 feet. My student counted fin kicks on the way out and timed on the way back.  To practice natural navigation, we moved to the aluminum training platform from the wood platform, keeping the big rocks to the left at a depth of 20 -23 ft. My student hit the aluminum platform dead on.  To demonstrate navigating in a straight line and back, we moved to the center of the north side of the aluminum platform.  From there, my student set a heading  of  0 degrees and took me out to Porta-Patty ( a dummy diver in a pota-potty)  and then took me back to the aluminum platform. Again, she was dead on with her navigation.  She did this in 3 ft. visibility! In those conditions if you are 4 ft. off at the target, you’ve, missed it.  For the reciprocal natural navigation my student took navigated right back to the wooden platform keeping the big rocks on her right.  To finish the first dive, my student took us down off the road way at a 180 degree heading to the archeological site at 20 – 25 ft.  She then took us back to the south dock at 20 – 25 ft. keeping the wall to her right side. She noted that the thermal cline was at 20 ft.: A good benchmark for depth. 

On dives two and three the big tasks involve navigating distance involving multiple headings while maintain accuracy. Again, Haigh Quarry is a location that is rich in navigational opportunities.  For example,  for one of her remaining dives, my student mapped out the following course:

  1. From the South dock 30⁰ to the Flamingo
  2. From the bow of the Flamingo 0⁰ to the Tube
  3. From the exit end of the tube 330⁰ to the archeological field
  4. From the Archeological field 0⁰ over the road bed down to the wooden platform.
  5. From the wooden platform 270⁰ to the aluminum platform
  6. From the center of the aluminum platform 0⁰ to the port-a-patty
  7.  From the port-a-patty 330⁰ to the red and white rope.
  8. Follow the red and white rope to the rock crusher.
  9.  From 6 ft. off the East side of the rock crusher my student set a heading of 180⁰. This heading runs parallel to the rope between the crusher and the wooden platform and should bring us to just off the East side of the platform. I was between the student and the rope but I couldn’t see the rope. I was worried the I might not see the wooden platform as the vis was so bad. My student nailed it. We came up to the platform three ft. off the east side.  That’s about 400 ft. of NO VIS travel, trusting the compass .  She then took us over the road, down 180⁰  to 20 ft. and turned right using natural navigation she brought us home to the south dock. That’s what it takes to be a navigator.

Points to remember in Navigation;

  • Slow and steady keeps you on course.
  • Always trust your compass, even when you “know “ you’re heading the  wrong the direction, compass is right.
  • Hold compass with both hand square to your body. If it’s not square to your body you are off course.
  • When changing your heading, Stop, turn, obtain your new heading, and then proceed.
  • Be observant as to what’s around you.
  • If you believe you are way off course, the surface is straight up. You can navigate to the surface by following the bubbles and take a look!


 In Other News…………….

One lucky person can get the last spot on the Munising, MI wreck dives, August 7 & 8.  Call the shop today!

Be sure to check the calendar to make sure you can get all your diving in this summer.  There are still plenty of outings coming up! In particular, we will be up at Lake Wazee August 29-30.  This a perfect weekend to finish your Advanced Open water or a specialty course.

 Don’t hesitate to get your deposits in for Team Manta’s 2016 Adventures.  We are heading to Grenada in February and Belize over Easter.  (In fact, we are down to 4 spots for Belize!)  Check our Adventures Page for details.

Congratulations to newly certified Open Water divers, Jonathan and Kevin Metz, Rachel Ritchhart and James Ritchhart, and our fantastic Underwater Navigator, Sue (Lucille) Bailey.

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