Primary Sidemount Skills

By Steve Lewis

When was the last time you practiced your sidemount shutdown drills? How many sidemount divers outside of the cave community have practised this ability recently? Photo: Jill Heinerth

If you have aspirations of moving your scuba diving into the world of sidemount diving this article might interest you. If you are a bona fide sidemount diver and especially if youare going a little deeper, scheming exposure that require staged decompression, use exotic breathing gases( and lots of it ), or perhaps if youare diving in hard overhead environments like caves and wrecks, PLEASE read this.

The switch to sidemount seems epic from where Iam standing. The traditional North Florida Cave Kit a back-mounted doubles, long hose, manifold, backplate, and wing a still has its adherents and remains a staple for the technological diving community, but the option of wearing your doubleds pinned to your sides has caught up.A

I donat have statistics to share, so I canat give you a percentage comparison, but judging by the number of sidemount diving groups on social media, and a quick tally of the diving photos on Instagram and Facebook, chances are that if youare a technological diver, you have a sidemount rig in your scuba closet; or youare thinking about getting one to hang in there.

Thatas great. Welcome to the club.

Unfortunately, as with anything else thatas gone through a huge upswing in popularity, thereas a potential for key principles to get lost in the growth spurt. From yoga to coffee drinking, as consumer interest grows, the fundamentals tend to get diluted; that is human nature. We have to suck it up and been recognized that a beverage attained with non-fat coconut milk, injected with some sort of unpronounceable tropical fruit essence, and topped with whipped cream and party sprinkles is also coffee, although itas a long sip from the traditional espresso wead find in the early morning cafes in Spain, France, or Italy.

However, a liberal interpretation of the principles of mindfulness and the personal preferences in your daily caffeine consumption are unlikely to get you killed. Failing to understand the fundamentals of how to use a sidemount rig might. Or more likely, it might give you a nasty come-to-Jesus moment, which has its serious drawbacks too.

At this phase, letas skip the whole instant sidemount instructor prattle. Letas simply accept that there are men and women out there teaching something they call sidemount, but that really isnat. Letas merely settle then on the statement that some principle skills are important, and whether or not you learned them is another debate and doesnat detract from their importance.

Case in phase: the basic shutdown drill.

Sidemount a as with so many technological diving skills a comes to the general diving population via cave divers; those crazy folk who swimming around in holes in the ground, looking at wet rocks for hours. As a participant in something called Cave Camp a an annual social/ teach/ learning event in Mexicoas beautiful cave country a I had the chance to watch and audit an teacher nominee demonstrate the classic acave diveras sidemount shut-downa to a student. It was truly neat to watch, especially when the student got it right. Progress.

I wondered to myself as I hung in the water above the two of them, how many certified sidemount divers outside of the cave community have learned it and have practised it recently?

The steps are as follows 😛 TAGEND Check your SPGs and that both cylinder valves are fully open Signal aemergencya with your light Breathing from the right cylinder( the long hose ), shut down the valve on that side while breathing from its regulator until the hose
is slack and empty Switch to the backup regulator Clip the long-hose second stage to your harness and quieten your light signal Open the right cylinder valve Switch regulators( let your lefthand second stage drop on its necklace) Switch your light from your left hand to your right and signal aemergencya Shut down the left cylinder valve Purge the gas from the hose until itas depleted Quieten your lighting signal Open the left cylinder valve Check the gas is switched on and the secondary regulator is delivering gas Check both SPGs Signal OK to your buddy( ies)

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