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Recreational Sidemount ...

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

  1. DaleC

    DaleC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Leftcoast of Canada
    Yes, and what's wrong with recreational diving with a tank slung on your side anyway?

    I don't agree with the initial premise in every case.

    Some people just want to see if they like sidemount but they don't want to spend a K or more for the experience. So they slap together some kit and dive it. As they progress they see what works and what doesn't and more importantly, if they even like SM at all. If they do, they probably upgrade their gear and take some formal courses.

    So, to look at that individual and suggest they are a problem is to not recognize a common entry stream for potentially committed sm divers. Another entry stream is the completely unknowing diver who thinks they want to sm and drops big dough on courses and kit with very little exposure. In some ways they probably have a higher drop out rate than the first group because they are used to buying their way in or out while the first learns their way in or out.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  2. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    If you go to Cave Adventurers dive shop in Florida, you will see that there sign has a logo of a perfectly horizontal diver with sidemounted tanks in good position, the kind of thing you would expect from an experienced technical diver. That logo was made from a picture of an actual diver. That picture was taken of that diver during one of his OW checkout dives. He was not yet a certified OW diver.
    shoredivr likes this.
  3. Phil_C

    Phil_C ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK, Middle East, Cyprus
    OK - I am mainly a non technical diver at the moment, but I have been diving side mount for about 9 months now, and doing most of my recreational dives in SM. I have not completed a formal course, but I have dived with other divers in SM, technical divers using stages, and spent a lot of time reading books and articles and watching video of SM then adjusting my configuration to get it right.

    My main aim in going SM is to have redundancy in configuration and redundant air without going to back mount doubles - I tried that and didn't like it.

    I have pool access twice a week (one is a 5 metre pool) so I have had plenty of time to dive, video my trim and profile, and change configuration around to get it right in a controlled environment. When I can find a good SM instructor I will do a course, but no-one near me has any experience of SM or teaches it - does this approach make me wrong?

    I do not feel I am any more dangerous or worse prepared than when I am diving back mount, I have more (independent) redundant gas available, I understand gas management, and have practised drills such as OOA, valve feathering and so on all of which I have found quite straight forward and intuitive. So to some extent I actually wonder what I am going to get from a course that I have not been able to work out and develop for myself.

    In my 300 or so dives so far I have often switched configuration and equipment regularly, and dive warm water (Mediterranean) sea and cold water UK every month in different drysuits, wetsuits, BCD's and wings and different tank configurations, single, single and pony, twinsets etc. so don't feel that my approach will hinder me if I later do technical courses which require certain tank configurations or procedures because I do not feel set in my ways.

    So for me recreational SM makes sense, but doesn't need to be a course that is different from SM for any other form of diving, and I don't subscribe to the view that there is only one way to do it - "Heresy Burn the witch !" - but then it might just be I don't know what I don't know :)

    Willy2763 and TTPaws like this.
  4. tomfcrist

    tomfcrist NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Virginia, USA
    Side mount doesn't need to be a Tech course any more than back mount does. Why does someone even want a side mount card??? Diving configurations are not specific to rec or tech diving. But if people will pay for it, let's create a BP/W specialty. There are reasons I'm not a Padi instructor, and one of them is that I don't believe in ripping off customers by selling them a course that they could have self learned in less than an hour.
    Willy2763 and FoxHound like this.
  5. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    This is a tech forum,so perhaps there needs to be a sidemount forum in the recreational areas of Scubaboard. That being said,a person probably doesn't need a course to learn how to get a harness,and carry tanks on their side-aka sidemount configuration. In the tech world of sidemounting,yes,this is an advanced configuration and some type of training needs to be done. Cave and Wreck divers using sidemount configuration in sidemount situations, must be able to properly weight self for gear removal,perform gear removal,communicate stuck from behind/front in zero viz,negotiating restrictions,gas protocols etc etc,becomes a critical function of life support.One thing we see is that people will buy the equipment and dive sidemount configuration,and then decide to progress to real sidemount situations without adequate training,but the end result has been a couple fatalities and multiple near misses.
    Omisson and DaleC like this.
  6. Phil_C

    Phil_C ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK, Middle East, Cyprus
    Now that I would agree with - but would suggest that the issue of lack of training is for the more advanced scenario of cave or wreck (confined/overhead) environment, and the risk would be the same whether they were diving side mount or traditional back mount.

    I hope to take cave courses later this year - but would never dream of diving cave until I did. - P
    Willy2763 and DaleC like this.
  7. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    I must say that the last two or three times I've gone to JB I've seen awful technique in terms of sidemounting tanks, even from Full Cave divers and Full Cave students under the supervision of experienced, big-name instructors....and some Full Cave instructors themselves.

    My point is that bad technique isn't just in the realm of the OW diver.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
    Pavao and TracyN like this.
  8. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    I don't see it that way ... if the comment was a PM to me, it would be a private conversation. Posting it in a forum makes it a public conversation, and it's common practice to discuss things on ScubaBoard that you've read or discussed elsewhere.

    There are less than 10 people involved in that other conversation. And given the limitations of the forum, I'm looking for a broader perspective on the topic.

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
    shoredivr and p2diver like this.
  9. theskull

    theskull Divemaster

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: St. Louis, MO
    I dive SM on nealy all recreational dives (for fun or while teaching), on all tech dives (for fun or while teaching), and have for a few years now. My initial info was obtained by diving with and querying a number of SM tech divers, most of whom had been diving SM for many years with homemade gear. After obtaining my gear (commercial, Hollis SMS-100) I pretty much taught myself through trial and error and emails and bulletin board research, which is the long way, but also allowed me to try out all of the major suggestions in terms of hose routing, types of bungees, weighting strategies, etc., to find out what did and didn't work for me, and ultimately gave me a good bag of tricks for assisting the students I was soon to be teaching.

    I then got certified as an OW SM Instructor and, with several months of intense practice behind me, started teaching the students who were demanding to take the course at our shop. I taught OW SM divers for well over a year before getting certified to teach SM Tech Divers as well. I have always taught it as though the students were heading toward tech, though, whether they were or not--good trim, gas management, tank removal & replacement, etc. I do admit, though, that several of the OW SM Divers have ended up diving with tanks that look like they are slung rather than nice and tight up in the armpits and parallel, because that is how they have chosen to do so.

    Interesting side note is that I never intended to like SM diving myself. I only took it up because the demand for teaching was there and I refused to teach it until I had mastered it myself. Funny thing happened on the way to mastery--I discovere that SM diving rules! It wasn't long before my doubles had been broken down and my backplates and wings had been sold to whomever was still willing to buy them. ;-)

    Jim Lapenta likes this.
  10. Ken T

    Ken T Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
    Fair enough.

    I would think that all course/workshops should be taught properly.
    I realize that this is always not the case.

    Certainly the skills that are core to any sidemount configuration should not be glossed over because the course is recreational.

    One of the reasons I choose a sidemount course was with an idea in the future that I might take up technical diving and would rather not do that with backmount doubles.

    Some have suggested on Facebook that the recreational sidemount diver should not have a long hose or be taught to remove tanks underwater, as that might encourage "them" to enter restrictions or overhead environments.

    My only thought on that was that an idiot is an idiot, and if someone chooses to do that it is not the rigging of their gear that is the deciding factor.

    I do appreciate the benefit of a long hose for gas sharing in any out of air situation, not having to hug my dive partner as we ascend directly to the surface.
    A nice calm swim back to our exit point, without knocking into each other.

    I have removed my tanks underwater to fiddle with tank band placement to improve trim.

    I do think that perhaps a minimum dive count, or other minimum certification level would be appropriate before the course.
    While not always an indication of skill, you have to start somewhere to screen students.

    While the slight increased task loading of sidemount in open water is not onerous, introducing it to someone who has not had some practice with regular back mounted diving is looking for trouble.

    An example from my class - the only other student, I am not sure of his dive count or certifications, annouced that he was interested in sidemount because he had run out of air while diving in Thailand. A bad sign....

    The second problem he encountered with sidemount was that he panicked and bolted for the surface in the pool session because (I believe) he was not able handle the switching between the two tanks/regulators. At first that is, he did eventually get the skill down.

    He choose not to attend the open water portions of the course.

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