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Recreational Sidemount ...

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by BCSGratefulDiver, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    Boltsnaps and bungee. I drill cylinder handling on my courses - I think the muscle memory /equipment familiarity is worth developing. It is, after all, an equipment usage course.

    G0121410.jpg G0121407.jpg

    We have lots of fun on the course, especially playing with don/doff cylinder drills at the end of the dive - this also reinforces some good points about diver/cylinder buoyancy etc...

    With PADI, it is all about interpretation of standards. It is a standard to demonstrate back kick (and 180 helicopter turn). With the back kick, it's important to note that no distance requirement is given.

    For me, I develop the back kick in confined water. Then we have approx 270 minutes of open water time to work on this, and other skills, further. Very few students, from nothing, will develop an awesome back kick in that time... they will have the beginnings of the technique though. As there's no distance requirement, it's not a pass/fail criteria.

    I'd guess the practice depends on; (1) the expertise of the instructor and (2) regional diving practices. I couldn't guess how common it is. I see it as a 'quick fix' to tank trim with AL cylinder - so probably more attractive to inexperienced sidemount instructors.

    I teach sidemount right up to advanced/technical/overhead levels. For me, AL cylinder weights are a short term option. You wouldn't want cylinder weights in confined environments. So I don't teach it that way ('beginning with the end in mind').

    PADI typically don't follow a 'beginning with the end in mind' philosophy (although individual instructors might... I do). Also, the scope of options is very wide; reflecting a flexibility for application on a global level under different conditions and with different equipment.

    I teach AL cylinder trim via proper configuration, gas management and cylinder positioning (d-rings) as a standard. However, I do inform students of the option to weight tanks - with the caveat of why I don't choose that option personally. Teaching cylinder trim without weights provides a skill-set and understanding (good training)... whether the student chooses to follow that skill-set/understanding post-qualification is their decision. I suspect most of my students do. If I taught cylinder weighting as standard, then students would be deprived the skill-set to sidemount properly without that 'quick-fix'.
  2. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    Andy, the only consideration to weighting AL80s that needs to be made is one of familiarity. I dive heavy steels almost exclusively. My dives on AL80s are VERY few and far between. Weighting an AL80 to emulate my usual tanks is more than just a "quick fix"....it allows for consistency across ALL of my diving. My tanks react similarly, my trim swing is similar, etc.

    Having said that, I have moved to no weights on my AL80s and moving the bolt snaps forward....but only because I find it easier to maintain clean-looking tanks in that way.
    BCSGratefulDiver likes this.
  3. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    Beyond regular OW skills? Not a lot.

    Here are a few:

    • Getting geared up on the boat in about the same amount of time it takes to gear up with a jacket BC. This might just be a "practice" issue, but I can be ready to splash in about 5 minutes with my jacket BC, and closer to 15 with my sidemount rig, just because there's no easy way to sit it up on the bench without being a "bench hog"
    • Hose routing. This is probably just another "have to work at it" issue, but it took quite a few tries to get the hoses routed correctly and the right length. Different regs have holes in different places and not all swivel, so the hoses took some work.
    • Bungee strength and length was another issue that could be better worked out with some help and a pool.

    Other than that, I can't really come up with any huge differences between SM and BM.

    As a recreational SM diver, I don't have any need to gracefully unclip my tanks to get through a restriction, and will never have a third (or fourth) tank.

    Normal skill practice would be nice, like air-sharing with a long hose, which most rec divers have never done, and practice switching regs during the dive to equalize usage, but all things considered, I didn't have a SM class an none of it was rocket science, just some dives over the summer and some practice.

  4. SanDiegoSidemount

    SanDiegoSidemount DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Diego, CA
    To elaborate a little about what Jeff said, UTD's sidemount mini is a very straightforward cross-over course for divers who already dive backmount long hose. The emphasis in this short clinic is almost entirely on gear fitting, trim and buoyancy.

    Whether you love or hate the Z manifold, one of its benefits becomes clear in the sidemount mini: there is absolutely no change in how you execute Mod-S or S Drill, so no time in the class needs to be spent re-training these skills. There is no regulator switch or learning procedure differences when you're breathing off the necklace, as is necessary in independent SM.

    I personally found the crossover to sidemount in a Z ridiculously simple because of this. I just had to learn the don/doff routine, get my trim dialed, and learn the air management and valve drills.

    In my experience, almost all the time in UTD SM training is spent getting the trim dialed, getting weight and tanks positioned correctly, and practicing propulsion with the tanks in their new position along your sides. The other stuff is easy, and covered in just a couple of minutes.

    As Jeff mentioned, there are other courses for people with no long-hose experience (Essentials of Side Mount) which focus on personal skills (Basic 6, S Drill) in addition to the SM gear. And beginners can get UTD Open Water certification in sidemount, where they use SM from the very beginning.

    All UTD courses at the "foundational" levels include intensive work on buoyancy and trim: at least one entire pool session on this alone, sometimes more. This is especially important for dialing a sidemount configuration.

    I also think it's nice that UTD doesn't treat sidemount as a specialty "off to the side" of their curriculum, or as something reserved for already-certified divers. For them, it's simply a gear configuration that all their courses at all levels can be taken with.
    decompression likes this.
  5. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    So, you're telling me that in backmounted doubles you turn your tanks on and off every few minutes? Really?

    The other thing to mention: This is the majority of what a sidemount class entails: getting the equipment dialed in and trimmed out. The "procedures" aren't all drastically different at all. Any OW diver should know how to switch regs. The important part in sidemount training is all of the little stuff you need to learn, along with equipment configuration....not a major skills overhaul.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  6. SanDiegoSidemount

    SanDiegoSidemount DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Diego, CA
    Yes, Vic. Yes we do. It's our replacement for the regulator switch. Love it or hate it, it's how we roll.

    I do appreciate that the independent SM procedures for air share are not all that drastically different. However, they are different enough to require re-training in muscle memory and instinctive reactions when breathing off the necklace.

    We can debate endlessly whether it was really "worth" introducing a manifold just to make S-drill completely identical for UTD sidemount vs. backmount. The fact is that UTD has accepted the trade-offs in order to standardize the skills 100 percent. If you don't agree with this philosophy, you don't have to dive UTD sidemount.

    I did want to point out that one benefit of the Z system is to make cross-over training in sidemount extremely easy.

    Another point I wanted to make is that UTD deserves praise for making buoyancy and trim a giant part of every one of their courses, and that it's particularly important we get this right for sidemount.

    I think UTD also deserves praise for embracing sidemount as a valid configuration for all of the classes in their curriculum, from OW all the way to Wreck, Cave, and Trimix. At UTD, sidemount is not an oddball "specialty" or a different training path.

    A final item worth noting is that UTD is successfully training lots of beginning OW divers in a single tank rec sidemount configuration. If you've seen photos or videos of these divers, their skills are truly impressive for first-timers.

    Vic, you and I can have fun discussing the Z manifold all day. We have, and we will. :D

    I'm trying to avoid making the manifold an issue in this thread. Instead, I wanted to highlight for the OP how UTD has embraced sidemount and integrated it with their entire curriculum from beginner through tech. The Z system helps make this integration easier and more seamless.
  7. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    I meant backmounted doubles.

    I guess my point was: Keep the Z-Manifold completely out of this thread.

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