How to Use a Dive Compass

Written by david harris
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How to Use a Dive Compass
An underwater compass is essential for keeping divers on course. ( Images)

Learning how to use a dive compass is important if you are an avid scuba diver. Although many people go through dive school without learning this skill, being able to read an underwater compass is essential for doing anchored dives (since you must find your way back to your boat) and is not the same as reading a land compass.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Learn the basics of how the compass works. It may appear that the needle and the compass card are constantly spinning, but this is not the case. Instead, the case around them is constantly moving while the two parts are stationary.

  2. 2

    Hold the compass parallel to your body when trying to get location. Practice in a pool or on land before trying it during a dive. Holding it even on a slight angle will ruin your reading.

  3. 3

    Take a reading at the beginning of your dive so you can correctly find your way back. Position the compass so the red line, or lubberline, points toward a landmark or the direction you want to go once it is parallel with your body.

  4. 4

    Spin the bezel, or the circular part around the compass, until the arrow points north or to 0 degrees (since not all underwater compasses have directions on them). Look at the number farthest away from you on the compass. This is your bearing and the direction you are heading. The number closest to you is your bearing for the way back.

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