Loving Current Diving Part III

Loving Current Diving Part III


Are you salivating for those extra knots yet? If you are not quite sure, here are ways to use the current and reef structure in tandem to maneuver around in the current.

Let’s start with my favorite, the Pinnacle or Sea Mount.

On the pictures below, I’ve numbered various paths you can take in the current while diving various reef types. The numbers correspond to the path described below. The red line is always designated as the direction of the current which in this classic case splits and circles the pinnacle. The dead zone in the split usually occurs where the pinnacle reaches the bottom.










1. Green Route.

Here you can see pretty much all of the pinnacle. Start out descending OFF the pinnacle. Depending on the strength of the current they can help you decide how far out. You need to be able to clear your ears and descend quickly. Reach the split of the current (near the place where the pinnacle reaches the bottom) and usually just in front there is a “dead” zone with little current and you can cruise around here. Note if you get to far “off” one side or the other the current will take you around the pinnacle. Watch your depth if the pinnacle is deep. Then choose a side of the pinnacle and float around to the back side, ending up in the “lee” of the current where you make your ascent.

2. Black Route.

If you are not interested in what’s on the current side, maybe you are on a quest for nudibranchs (!), you can simply drop in on the leeward side and zig zag your way to the top. However, note that all the exciting fish activity happens on the front of the reef in the current and once you are back here it may be too strong to fight to the front.

3. Yellow Route.

If you handle current well, the yellow route can be fun. Drop in in advance of the pinnacle like on the green route and zig zag up the front of the reef. You may have to hold on or place a reef hook. One of my favorite places to be is hooked in at the top of the pinnacle where the current and often the action are the strongest! Be sure you are a strong diver with good current and reef hook skills before attempting this.

4. Orange Route.

This may seem counter-intuitive but it can be really cool. Often when the current splits, it creates a “wake” like a boat around the pinnacle. So if you are a slow descender you can drop in on the back side of the pinnacle and creep forward inside this “wake” right up at the reef and get to the front of the reef. This is a very cool “dead spot” in the current when it exists.


Wall or Slope with Current Parallel












1. Green Route.

This is truly the easiest way to dive current. Go with the flow, cruise down the reef, enjoy the ride. You may come across some eddies or back flows if there are cuts in the reef. As the water backflows, the current will come straight at you. You may need to kick through it but eventually the current will turn again. If you are diving a reef with corners you may notice current changes around the corners.

At the end of the dive you can probably come up onto the reef flats to do your safety stop. If the current is running along the reef flat may pick up because the water is being compressed in the shallows. If the current seems to strong for you, drop back down just over the slope.


Wall or Slope with Current Perpendicular












1. Green Route.

Again, this is a classic route. However, if the current is flowing at the reef, it will want to continually push you up. You may need to stay deeper longer on this route and come up and over the reef only at your safety stop. Be sure you and your buddy are both ready because it can be a fun and quick ride in the shallows! Often there is good fish action at the top of the slope. You can also hook in here and enjoy.

2. Orange Route.

This is an identical start as the Green Route on the pinnacle. Drop in away from the reef and let the current bring you into it. Zig zag your way up and then either turn down the reef or fly up over the top.


Reef Flat











1. Green Route.

If you are on a mooring with no one to pick you up from a drift dive, then choose the green route. Pick your way up current by using the coral heads to hide behind. Using the techniques in my last post, “jump” from one to the other in short bursts and spend most of your time enjoying what’s behind them. Then simply drift back to your boat.

2. Orange Route.

If you have a driver, then by all means simply drift. However, if the current is strong on a flat reef, it may be just a “ride” and you may not be able to stop and smell the roses along the way.


Cut or Channel

It is very important to understand the tides to dive in cuts and channels. NEVER dive a channel on an outgoing tide unless you have a very knowledgeable guide who completely understands the currents. I have seen outgoing currents up to 11 knots! (Ever been to Fakarava???). Plus you have lower visibility water on the outgoing tide as lagoon water washes out to sea. Dive it safely when the clear water is incoming especially into a lagoon.












1. Green Route.

There is no reason to fight a current in a cut or channel. Get in and enjoy the ride. You may find cuts that create eddies and back flows. These will occur at the edges of the channel. Usually the best life is at the sides of the channel but in some places you might find big sharks out in the middle. Check with your guide.



In my final post on Loving Current, I’ll provide tips on gear and diving in current safely with a buddy!


To Your Adventures!




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