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Wreck Diving on Sidemount or Backmount Doubles

Discussion in 'Wreck Diving' started by cklaus, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. cklaus

    cklaus Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the perspective. Good info. to consider.
    shoredivr likes this.
  2. cklaus

    cklaus Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago, IL
    Thank you for the good information. I also value the caution from you and @grantctobin regarding penetration. My plan has been to receive further training next spring; I think I'll stay outside the wrecks until I've gone through the training.
    jlcnuke and grantctobin like this.
  3. RyanT

    RyanT ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned upthread, but one advantage of BM is that if you lose a reg or have a valve leak, you can shut that valve down and still access the remaining gas in both tanks.
    stuartv, Dark Wolf and DiveTucson like this.
  4. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    Based on a reputable source, I hear the currents on your side of the peninsula are wicked fast and that diving with your group involves a bit of vetting. I hope to pass the test someday.
    Diving Dubai likes this.
  5. leadduck

    leadduck Contributor


    Agree. @grantctobin seems to believe cold water SM is very different from warm water SM which I don't see.
    The main difference is in recreational diving, where a BM diver needs less space than a SM diver, so the operator will find it easier to cram a group of exclusively BM tourists onto his cattle boat. But on a tec diving trip where everybody has deco stage tanks, BO tanks, a scooter/DPV, and/or a camera rig, everybody needs space and assistance getting in and out, and there's little difference remaining between SM and BM. The SM diver has the small advantage that he can decide whether to pass up all his tanks, or only the deco stages, DPV and camera like the BM diver. SM diving takes more practice and experience than BM.
    lsmike likes this.
  6. Jack Hammer

    Jack Hammer Solo Diver

    @leadduck, local conditions, boats, etc are a factor to consider, not just water temp. The OP is based in Chicago and @grantctobin recommendations are spot on for here. We dont have cattle boats. We do have waves that are very close so even in tiny little one footers the boat rocks very jerkily. I've seen quite a few experienced sidemounters have difficulty gearing up here as they are bounced all over a rocking boat. We also have seen several people all excited about the joy and simplicity of the sidemount system throw in the towel and switch their setup to back mount as it works better for a lot of people here. Even a lot of our hard core SMers prefer to dive BM off the boats.
    DiveTucson and grantctobin like this.
  7. Seaweed Doc

    Seaweed Doc MSDT ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
    Thanks for this. I've only had a SM buddy twice (3 total dives) and watched a guy exiting solo SM a couple times. All were in cold water, and all required (or at least strongly benefited from) my help either pre-descent, during the dive, or post-ascent. Watching all the futzing around and issues has not convinced me SM is ever a good idea. It struck me as being categorically different assistance than, say, letting your buddy use your shoulder to get fins on. (Though I can definitely see the advantages on an intellectual level. And I have friends who dive SM, including a SM instructor, who I suspect are fully competent and self-sufficient.)

    I suspect my limited observations are affected by both the cold water and the specific individuals' competence.

    My perspective may also be affected by my initial training in a horsecollar BCD and small backpack: We were taught to remove the backpack and push it through ahead of us. The unit was smaller than a modern BC or backplate/wing and easy enough to push through. But this was back in the dark ages when an openwater course included decompression training and nobody thought twice about swimming up an abandoned sewage outfall to hunt with a single tank.
    rjack321 likes this.
  8. shoredivr

    shoredivr Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ontario
    Thanks for the measured reply.
    JBFG likes this.
  9. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
    I try...

    I do get frustrated when people decide with broad brushstrokes that the answer to the question is always black and white. It can never be, there are too many variables.

    I'll freely admit I dive in a pretty unique environment but it does highlight my point. We generally dive in high current, not drifts, they're walls and pinnacles. Often the drop method is the fast boat gets it's bow close in to the rock, and a buddy pair roll off, as soon as they're off the boat reverses out to prevent it hitting the rocks. The next pair move up do final checks and repeat. Meanwhile the pair in the water have a really short window to make a fast final final check, okay and down - staying at the surface means you're holding up the boat. or you'll get blown off, needing the boat to come get you, delaying those on board who are getting hotter and more grumpy.

    So for all of the above I chose ring bungees, I accept they're not as good as other methods, but they are the optimum for my circumstances.

    I've tried BM doubles, I don't like them because of the weight on dry land - personal choice. Equally on our boats, the fast boat picks us up and takes us back to the mother ship. When it's choppy you don't want to be lifting a set of doubles from a fast boat that is rising and falling 3-4' in the swell. So in our case BM doubles are sub optimal - but for us in our circumstance.. Somewhere else might be very different.

    I do urge people here (in my neck of the woods) to try both and then look at the type of diving they'll be doing. And once they go down a route of a configuration, get proficient with it especially with gearing up and down, and don't be THAT person.

    At the end of the day gear is gear it's a means to an end, I say pick the option which is the easiest to use in any given circumstances, but don't assume that rig is the optimum everywhere
  10. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean

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