Question Search & Recovery vs Underwater Navigation

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Orso Raggiante
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# of dives
50 - 99
I have always marveled at divers who basically show up at a dive centre, pick up their cylinders, and go off to dive at a particular site. I wouldn't know how to get to, say, a wreck, if I had dived that site just that morning! So I was thinking of doing either a Search & Recovery specialty or an Underwater Navigator specialty to help me locate myself and the things I want to see underwater. Does anyone have any recommendations as to how I can achieve this, or perhaps tell me the difference between the two courses mentioned? Both seem to teach some amount of measuring distance, knowing directions, and remembering features. Thanks in advance!
I have also given up on counting fin stokes because I find it too easy to lose track of the count if distractions pop up (not an unusual occurrence).

Totally useless in practical terms unless you have VERY short distance to cover.
I think there are two type of people, those who have an innate sense of direction and those who do not. In my experience, those who have a sense of direction can navigate in the bush or in cities without trouble and are also good at navigating underwater. Those who have no sense of direction are hopeless at both.

Some people can never be taught navigation above or below the water.

My wife has that innate sense of direction. On vacation we can emerge from a subway after six direction changes underground and she'll know the exact direction back to our hotel. OTOH, I have to reorient myself after an elevator ride.

However, you can certainly compensate for it with the right tools. I learned to read and navigate by maps early. Give me a trail, topo, or road map and a compass or the sun and I'll be fine. I even worked as a courier for a law firm in Los Angeles, using the old Thomas Guide map books to get around.
Totally useless in practical terms unless you have VERY short distance to cover.
Totally useless is kind of strong. Difficult to use would be better. It is quite possible to use both fin-kicks and time and do a LOT better than just guessing. For example, if you need to go (say) 200m, the chances are it will take you maybe 10-12 minutes. Knowing what YOUR distance is per minutes is a useful skill. Fin kicks are more accurate, but not if you get distracted.
@Orso Raggiante

You may want to look at my dive planning document. While it is geared to my area, the concepts are applicable.
I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.
Best recommendation is just allowing yourself to get lost in places where it's safe. Not relying on a DM for guidance.
What's the abbreviation to go from true to compass? Something like TVMDC?

True, Variation, Magnetic, Deviation, Compass?

And as long as I'm on a tangent, I had friends who worked on Devon Island in the late 1980's. In the 1920's a compass on Devon would have pointed SW. By the time they got there, it would point just N of W. Now it would point just a bit W of N.

And to stay on topic: Nav would be better than S&R at first. I agree that you should ideally do Nav BEFORE S&R.
Can Dead Men Vote Twice
Best recommendation is just allowing yourself to get lost in places where it's safe. Not relying on a DM for guidance.
I don't know if I am ready for that just yet - maybe after another 100 dives or so, when I am comfortable being lost and have much better navigation skills, I might try that with some safe, easy, dived-before sites 🙃
How do you practice navigation in a lake with few features on the bottom? I was thinking of an SMB with a weighted line. Shoot an azimuth at the surface and follow that bearing at depth until I get to the line.

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