Although navigation was covered briefly in the Padi Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver courses I never really felt I'd got the hang of it so I persuaded my husband to accompany me on the Navigation Speciality Course. We had thought about doing it abroad in the clear mediterranean waters but then decided that it might be better to do it in the more challenging waters of Scotland as we dive there more often. We booked the course with The Dive Initiative, our local dive school in Glasgow. Prior to doing the open water exercises we completed the Padi Navigation workbook reviews which outline all the skills you need to complete the course, as well as valuable information about how to perform them. The course consists of 3 dives which can all be completed in one day. Our instructor, Ian, had decided to take us to an area of Loch Fyne known as the 'Tea Rooms' which is just about 10 minutes north of Inverary. It is a beautiful site with a small pebble beach gently sloping down to the water. On the first dive we recapped on some of the tasks we had completed for our Advanced Open Water such as navigating a square with a compass and swimming a reciprical heading using natural navigation. We also had to count our kick cycles and time them while swimming along a 30m line in order to work out our individual speeds over a known distance. The visibility in this area of Loch Fyne can be as little as 1 metre in places due to the bottom composition which is very soft and earthy with, what looks like flakes of wood which, as soon as you touch the bottom leave you sitting in the middle of a brownish cloud which takes a few minutes to settle down. In the clearer areas, however, it is beautiful with lots of marine life, especially sea urchins and some of the most amazing starfish I have ever seen. The second dive was a lot more intersting. The idea was to surface swim out to a buoy and navigate a triangle which would
, hopefully, bring you back to the line hanging from the buoy. My first attempt didn't get off to a great start but on the second I managed a perfect triangle, according to Ian. Our third dive was the most exciting of the three as we were to combine all the skills we had learned on the previous 2 dives and guide our instructor on a tour of the small rocky reef there, the test being our ability to arrive back at the correct exit point. When we arrived within a couple of feet of it we were both really delighted. This is one of the most enjoyable Padi courses I've done (apart from the Rescue Course) as it leaves you with a real sense of achievement, and a feeling that you will not waste time or air consumption trying to find your dive site or having to do long surface swims when you can't find your exit point from under water.