Sidemount Diving

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.

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.

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: