This morning I got the chance to try out diving with a side mount. The idea of being horizontal allowing you to be perfectly streamlined is really appealing.
The more streamlined you are the easier it is propel yourself through the water and the more horizontal you are easier it is to use your lungs.
I turned up at the dive shop at 9.30am. Alan talked me through setting up the kit. We were using a Hollis SMS 50. This is a dedicated side mount harness, which was coupled with, I believe, the Apeks Side Mount Regulator Kit.
To set up the harness you first need to don all your environmental protection suit. This is a bit annoying but I have been told that it is easier to set up than the Razor Harness 2. Once it was finally set up, adjusting all the different belts, bells and whistles, it was time to get into the water. The dive shop has a pool that it can use so we went there. You put the harness on, then get in the water and attach the cylinders. You attach the left hand cylinder first – this is your main cylinder it has a short hose for the regulator that goes around your head and then the regulator is kept in place by an elastic strap over your head. Once this is all set up (remembering to switch the air on) and you have secured it with the bungee, you can set up the second cylinder. It is set up in a very similar way. However this regulator has a long hose. Part of the hose is kept strapped to the side of the cylinder, the remainder goes around your head and clips to the top of the tank.
So I was almost good to go. As this is PADI I had my snorkel but we took that off as it gets in the way of the long hose. So I went for a swim around the pool. Now as you are only breathing from one cylinder at a time you have to switch between them. That means you might consume 10 bar on the main cylinder you have to switch to the second cylinder, and so on. Trying to use each cylinder equally. This is very easy to do and it becomes second nature after awhile.
How did it feel to dive? It felt like I didn’t have any cylinders on at all. I felt very streamlined in the water and it was a fantastic way to dive. Dare I say it? I felt like I was flying through the water.
Now I am trying to get the idea of doing the course and buying the kit out of my head. Because Alan runs a tech-diving school as well the course will also include elements of tech-diving. This course would be in addition to all the specialities that I am doing – though I think that I would drop Drysuit and Night in favour of doing the Side Mount speciality.
I am going back this afternoon to continue with my specialities. Perhaps if I can get a definitive price on the whole course plus kit (I have still to buy a wetsuit) then I will make a decision. Who knows, I could be doing the rest of my specialities with a side mount.