Two years diving sidemount 

Attaching the cylinders for a trial dive with side mounting

On the 2nd April 2013 I did a trial dive in sidemount. Alan Whitehead at Divewise/Techwise Malta helped me setup the Hollis SMS50, and after a briefing of how to don the equipment I went for a little swim around the pool. It was really different from what I was used to, but from that moment I was hooked.

I soon completed PADI’s Tec Sidemount course and as I had been in Malta to load up on some specialities I also finished my deep and wreck courses in sidemount. It was a lot of fun and I honestly felt like a rock star. When I returned home I quickly ordered the RAZOR harness system as that is what both my instructors recommended, but I wasn’t to get to use it until the end of my Divemaster course when I took my friend diving (just the two of us) to the Um El Faroud wreck. It was a fantastic dive.

Soon I moved to the Bahamas and I still had thoughts of diving in sidemount. So once I got comfortable at the dive shops there I bought my own tanks (and added left and right valves) and I started diving sidemount. It became that every dive that I was doing was in sidemount. I became very adept at donning and doffing my equipment. I loved how the set up time was so much less compared to backmount. I didn’t have to change tanks and I was completely redundant. I started doing solo dives.

I became involved with BREEF and The Nature Conservancy. The extended bottom time allowed me the ability to go for longer and complete tasks in one dive that would usually take two or more dives. My longest dive was 210 minutes, and I could have probably squeezed out another 30 minutes if my buddies hadn’t wanted to go eat.

I really love diving in sidemount. I wonder what the next year will bring – sidemount rebreather? Who knows.

2 responses to “Two years diving sidemount 

  1. I’m also tempted by sidemount… the redundancy, the solo possibilities, and especially the more minimalist gear… it would be great for travel. But I have reservations about how easy it would be to don the tanks in water in choppy conditions. How do you find that?

    • I’ve found it quite easy to get in, usually I don the tanks before getting in. Though it depends on the boat that I am diving from: I may giant stride, I may backwards roll in, or I may even don them in the water.

      If you are interested in learning to sidemount then find a good instructor someone like Steve Martin, Steve Lewis, Brian Kakuk, or Steve Bogaerts. These guys are all top in their field. Better to pay for good instruction as it will really help you. I did my cave course with Brian Kakuk, amazing guy.

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