PADI SEARCH & RECOVERY
* General considerations and reminders – all search patterns
a. Begin a search pattern at a specific location within the established
search area. Identify this location with a buoy and anchor or a marker
on the bottom.
b. Use the simplest search pattern that will work.
c. When using compass-based search patterns use the cardinal compass
points – N, S, E and W – on the long sides of the pattern to simplify
search pattern headings. Underwater navigation is the backbone of
search and recovery.
d. In a two person dive team, it’s often most effective if one diver navigates
the pattern while the other looks for the object.
e. When following a pattern underwater, keep track of your relative
position and a sketch of the pattern on a slate or a Nav-Finder. The
Nav-Finder is one of the most effective ways to do this.
f. To assist navigation, note natural and artificial references while swimming
a pattern underwater.
g. On a large area search, it may help to place bottom markers (heavy
wire with small flags attached, small floating buoys with line and
weights, piled stones, etc.) as underwater references that mark areas
you’ve searched. Be sure to clean the bottom of these markers when
the dive is complete.
h. Avoid stirring up silt while swimming a pattern because this hampers the search.
Avoid contact with the bottom.
1. Keep fins pointed upward – diving slightly buoyant (with your
BCD – not under weighted) can help with this.
2. When you stop, remain level or head down in the water and avoid
fi n movement.
3. Use buoyancy to begin ascents initially rather than swimming.
j. Review communications and establish any special signals specific to
swimming a particular pattern.
k. When boat traffic in the search area is heavy or other individuals are
involved in the search, consider towing a surface fl oat with a locally
recognized dive flag to let others know where you are.
l. Small metal objects may sink into soft silt or sand, or water movement
may bury them. You may want to use an underwater metal detector
as you follow the search pattern. Plan the pattern so you don’t leave
any gaps in the area you cover with the detector. Be aware that metal
detectors are restricted in many areas – follow local laws and regulations.
• Pay attention to basic diver safety procedures. Check your air regularly
and often, and maintain contact with your buddy. Include what to do
if separated in your dive planning.
n. When using your compass, remember that metal objects may cause reading variations that affect your search pattern.