Two cylinders are better than one – Sidemount Speciality

side mount penetration

Me, penetrating the X127 in Malta with both cylinders extended in front.

When I did the trial dive of the Side Mount I fell instantly in love with the set up. Although the harness takes a little longer to put on, it is much easier to wear and it has the benefit that your tanks are not attached to your back. Not having the tanks on your back means that you have the full flexibility of your spine rather than being rigid and unable to move.

I can see that there are some instances where attaching the tanks will be difficult due to the swell in the water but I am sure with experience it will be something that I over come.

I received an email from the dive shop yesterday telling me that I would be starting the Side Mount course today at 1.30pm. So I headed down there and met up with Steve. Steve helped out on my Rescue Diver course in October and he also help teach my girlfriend how to dive on her OW and AOW.

Steve explained to me what we were going to do. So we loaded up the van and went to X127. We started with a giant stride entry. Steve showed me that I should attach the left cylinder first, and step into the water holding the other cylinder in my right hand. Once in the water I attached the other cylinder and we descended. I had a little difficulty getting down at first but eventually I was able to submerge. We swam about and I got comfortable underwater. We then practised switching between the two regulators, barrel rolls, removing the cylinders individually and together. By this time we had arrived at the X127. It is possible to penetrate this wreck. So we bimbled about, Steve showing me how to move through the openings and then I would copy. The last entry, Steve demonstrated removing both tanks and then passing through the confined space, I copied and felt really proud at being able to do it.

My feelings of pride were short lived as I had a complete blank when it came to doing the out-of-air drill. However, I have had it explained so I am confident that I will do it correctly next time. I just have to watch my buoyancy and not shoot up when performing a task that requires thought.

I enjoyed this dive. Tomorrow I am meant to be going back to the Um El-Faroud.

Here you can enjoy a video of the skills I practised. I know that not all are perfect but it was my first attempt at them.

3 responses to “Two cylinders are better than one – Sidemount Speciality

  1. I have not tried side mount diving yet, but it looks like something that I would enjoy.

    I just started diving in January to overcome my fears and am taking as many different classes as I can to learn more about different types of diving.

    I just completed my Master SCUBA Diver rating and have several other specialties already scheduled over the next couple weeks, but I guess I will have to see if side mount is available through my dive shop.

    I started posting my Dive Log onto my blog at and will start adding videos to mine as well with my new GoPro camera as soon as I figure out how to use it.

    • It is definitely a good way to dive. I’m going to be spending the rest of this week on the sidemount so I should be be able to get another 10 dives on it before my holiday finishes. Though I did the tec sidemount course in the end. It was a great introduction to tec diving.

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