To lay a guideline or not... a life or death question?

To lay a guideline or not... a life or death question?

This article is adapted from a chapter in the Book - "The Canterbury Wreck - A Diver's Guide"

Hi.... although not strictly sidemount related, I wanted to cover a subject very dear to one of my great passions in diving - wreck diving. Wrecks provide an amazing array of diving experiences from creating artificial reefs that attract and aggregate marine life to the wonders of penetrating and exploring the inside of a wreck.

When you undertake your entry level Wreck Diving Specialty Course, one of the key skills that you will learn is to correctly lay a guideline. Despite this, you will see and hear of experienced wreck divers performing penetration dives without using a guideline. Are these experienced wreck divers being complacent or foolhardy or is there a reasonable explanation for not using a guideline in all circumstances when diving wrecks?


Decompression Ascents - Some Secret Sauce

Let me start this month's blog with a couple of caveats; this post is predominantly for open circuit (OC) divers. If you dive a "breather" (Closed Circuit Rebreather or CCR) then some of the techniques I will explain involving breathing control won't work for you. Equally, if you have not mastered "relaxed static stability" then, with all the will in the world, you are not going to be able to complete a safe, controlled ascent as I will describe in this post. Take a look at some of my other posts on buoyancy control, stability, and trim, and master these skills first.

If you are still with me, then I assume that you are stable in the water, can hold trim and are diving open circuit or if on CCR, maybe you are thinking "what happens when I bail out to OC during an ascent?" What follows is some of the "secret sauce" that I have learnt and derived over the past few years of conducting decompression dives and guiding/instructing or acting as safety diver on such dives. If you employ and master these techniques you should be able to safely complete a team decompression ascent, "in the blue", meaning, with no visual reference other than your team-mates.

Watch & Learn

Over the years I've tried my hand at many physically oriented pastimes from sports such as Rugby and Cricket, to many years practicing Aikido and of course, diving. What all of these have in common is the requirement to build both physical skillsets and mental capability. In this blog I want to explore some of the keys aspects of building superior physical skillsets in diving.

When I decided to enter technical diving specifically sidemount cave diving, I knew that I had a lot to learn. I was more excited by the acquisition of great dive skills than by any particular desire to go deep into flooded caves. I watched video of prominent sidemount cave divers such as Steve Bogaerts over and over.

I absolutely wanted to have that level of what I now call, 'relaxed static stability'. Where you can relax motionless in the water column while holding perfect trim. Where you can maintain this stability in any aspect while performing tasks. That to me not only looked amazing, but had to be the most efficient way to dive. So I set about to get it!

7 Reasons Why You Should Dive Sidemount

When you ask a sidemount diver what they love most about sidemount they will invariably include the word, “freedom”. The feeling of sidemount diving is akin to freediving. The feeling of being one with the water and being able to move through it freely in any orientation. This feeling of freedom and weightlessness is nirvana for divers and one of the very real reasons that sidemount diving has experienced such growth.

There are of course, other reasons such as sidemount being fit for purpose when diving; caves, mines, sumps, and wrecks where the ability to navigate narrow restrictions is a requirement. But there are several fundamental benefits that sidemount diving provides that make it a good choice for any diver looking to move to multi-cylinder, open circuit diving.

Here's my top seven reasons why you should dive sidemount.

Home... Sweet Home.

It's great to be back in New Zealand after a fantastic season at Gozo Technical Diving, one of the very best sidemount and technical diving centres in the world. In over 8.000 minutes in the water, I logged 81 staged decompression dives over the six months and had the privilege of working with and guiding some fantastic technical divers and instructors. I can't wait to share what I have acquired with divers interested in sidemount diving here in New Zealand.

Safety Matters - Sidemount Pros Safety Audit Certified

This week marks a major milestone for me personally and also for Sidemount Pros. We received notification of our successful completion of the audit of our Safety Management System by OutdoorsMark. 

This is the penultimate step in Sidemount Pros being able to operate as an independent operator for dive activities in New Zealand with the last step being registration by WorkSafe New Zealand which is expected in the coming week.

Mastering the Four Foundations of Sidemount Diving

I thought this would be a good time to look at some of the overarching foundations that make up a good sidemount diver. We’ve all seen bad examples of sidemount divers and I am sure you have found some very good ones too. So what separates the good and great from the rest?

For me, it is the foundational skill set. The basics if you like, practiced over and over so that they become second nature. A good sidemount diver is easy to dive with. They execute their dive plan well, with near perfect stability in terms of buoyancy control and trim. They move efficiently through the water and have minimal to no impact on their surroundings. They are easy for boat crews to work with regarding equipment management and getting in and out of the water.

So what are these foundational skills that we need to master? Let’s take a look:

Day 2&3 in Maui

Update from Maui... Day 2 and as reported on our Facebook page in the Sidemount Pros in Maui Photo Album, I got DIN valves so was able to dive in full sidemount configuration albeit with two right hand valves meaning I attached the secondary loop bungee to the right cylinder valve hand-wheel. As you can see above, I was able to trim my cylinders perfectly.. happy days :)

Interesting start to the day... met the co-owner of the dive operation. Turned out to be a great guy but on our meeting he said... "oh yes I've been warned about you... I don't like sidemount!" I asked him why and his response was, "I just don't like it!" I smiled and said, "that's not a very good reason".

Single Sidemount in Maui

Hey Happy New Year... quick post on my Stealth 2.0 sidemount diving experience in Maui. I am sure many of you have been through the trials and tribulations of diving sidemount while travelling particularly with recreationally focused dive operations. Usually it works out OK if you make arrangements in advance for DIN valves and then deal with two right hand valves.

Today despite making arrangements in advance the boat had no DIN at all!! Not even a Pro valve with insert.... What to do? I had the option to go single backmount but I didn't want to give up that easily. I asked if they had a Yoke to DIN converter... they did. I had to spend about 10 minutes cleaning the thread to get it to fit but once that was accomplished I was set... but they only had one converter... so it's single sidemount today.

Sidemount Pros becomes an xDEEP Dealer

Sidemount Pros becomes an xDEEP Dealer

It's been a busy, great and emotional last couple of weeks. Busy because we are packing up and leaving the US after a great three and a half years in America. Emotional... well we are leaving some fantastic friends many of whom will remain so for life. Thank god for Facebook because as a guy I'm not great at staying in touch!! Emotional too as we ponder the year ahead. We can't wait to be back in New Zealand with our NZ family and friends. We also look forward to our planned adventures in Gozo and places between, later in the year.

Welcome to Sidemount Pros

Welcome to Sidemount Pros

Welcome to Sidemount Pros. This has been many years in the making but my excitement in developing a business around my lifelong passion is right up there with meeting my wife, seeing my kids grow up and watching the All Blacks win another World Cup!!

Many who know me also know that I have had a life-long love affair with scuba diving. Having built an initial career in the New Zealand Navy and then in growing global software companies, it was inevitable that I would end up here. I feel humbled to be taking my first steps into the world of professional diving but I also feel that I am ready.