AOW: Search and Recovery Dive Helps People Find Themselves


By John Kinsella

We were waiting excitedly on the dock for the lead Course Director to arrive. We were a bunch of newly-trained OWSIs and this was a dive for our Search and Recovery Specialty Instructor course; we were looking forward to it after an intensive IDC together. This was quite the dive site for a search and recovery dive too. It was inside a marina in an area about the size of football pitch that had been cordoned off especially for our use. We had spent the last 15 minutes hypothesizing as to the actual bottom content: murder weapons and worse were the latest thoughts. One thing we all agreed was that there’d be a ton of miscellaneous rubbish down there.

As the CD walked down the gangway towards us, he wriggled his wedding ring from his hand and tossed it casually into the middle of the open water while explaining that he had so much confidence in us that he wasn’t worried about having to mention this to his wife.

Talk about an attention getter. I remember the moment in perfect clarity to this day. There was a collective gasp as we realized that we were now staring at the expanding rings that marked the last know location of the first object we were to recover that day.

In my view, the Search and Recovery Adventure Dive and Specialty are right up there with Rescue Diver as the most rewarding courses in the PADI System. There’s something bordering on pure magic when divers spot a long lost object underwater and bring it to the surface. Successful search and recovery takes discipline, effort and careful planning in addition to solid dive skills.

Much of this comes in handy other times too. Lost your keys? Figure out where you last saw them and start there. Search each area you look thoroughly so you don’t have to search it again. Have you more than one searcher? Divide up the search areas. It’s basically the same approach we took that day to finding the wedding ring in the marina.

Make sure your Advanced Open Water Divers get to know the rewards of Search and Recovery Diving, in addition to enjoying some rewarding diving, they’ll build skills that will stay with them forever. And find the ring we did, only to discover it was a cheap plastic substitute.

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