A WAY TO BETTER MY SIDEMOUNT CAVE DIVING
Last week was full of celebrations! First, I logged my 100th cave dive and then I took the Basic Cave Sidemount course with Steve Bogaerts. This is the start of a new era of diving for me and for you, joining Essential Scuba Training.
I started teaching myself cave sidemount with the help of my good friend, Alan Formstone, who I actively work with surveying and preparing a map of the Tajma Ha cave system. Alan took his Basic Sidemount Course with Steve Bogaerts early 2010 and was of huge help to improve my techniques. It’s been a series of tweaks and changes since then, adjustments, replacements and a few headaches. After completing some 50 dives or so, in what my own view of cave sidemount is, I decided it was time to take training from the best sidemount instructor I know. Steve Bogaerts is the owner of Go Sidemount, and inventor of the famous sidemount Razor harness.
Basic Sidemount Cave Diver with Steve Bogaerts
Scuba Diving Essentials
I have been scuba diving since the age of fifteen and have logged a good amount of dives. I would like to say I have enjoyed everyone of them but it would not be true and I would not be writing this article.
When you decide to go and buy your scuba diving equipment, on the recommendation of your instructor, of course, you need to keep certain rules in mind.
First off, here is what you will need as a bulk pak:
- BCD or buoyancy compensator
- Regulators with alternate air source, SPG and low pressure inflator hose.
- Mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit.
- Dive computer or depth gauge, compass, cutting tool slates or wetnotes
- Tanks if you are sure of the need otherwise dive shops have these for rent
To weight or Not to weight?
Once wrapped into your wetsuit, weight belt and BCD you are now ‘free’ to go and enjoy the wonders of the aquatic realm. Do you remember your first dive? As it happens I do and I remember putting on a weight belt with 2 blocks on it – I guess they were two pounders. Don’t exactly remember how I was in the water as my concentration was on my breathing and my instructor, a very attractive mermaid!
This said, my initial scuba training was done under the banner of the CMAS, World Underwater Federation, and at the time the use of a BCD was sort of newish, specially that I was in the French Caribbean. OK, ok, did I mention already that I have a great life?
Being balanced and trimmed underwater is quite challenging, especially when it’s your first time. Usually, dive resorts have what we call ‘try dives,’ and as the amount done means more profit, things can go a little bit too quickly, so you may not really have time to adjust. Also, the instructor who runs your try dive has another four clients, and probably more waiting on the boat to get the chance of their life to try scuba diving.
Have a look at this video, shot by Steve Martin during a trip to Tortuga Reef, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The quality is not great, but you will get a better idea of where I’m going with all this:
Overweighted scuba Diver
Fun dives vs established rules?!?
Let me tell you this, I am not a big fan of established rules and on one side it is good that not everybody think like me and on the other side it helps me put my point across!
As you may have realised, if you follow the scuba diving industry news, that sidemount scuba diving is becoming very popular. More than a trend who is called to fade out in time, I think it is a way of life or should I say, a way of diving.
Better redundancy in sidemount!
Couple of PADI courses are out there already and whoever tries it claim it is a revelation. More fun, more practical, easier to get to, as doubles are not as available as would be a pair of singles and also offers real redundancy.
Ask an expert before buying scuba equipment!
This the first part of the journey when looking at getting certified. Usually you go in a dive shop and first see for yourself, compare prices and models. It is very easy today with online scuba equipment review and also the monthly dive magazines showing the new releases.
One thing for sure, once in a dive retail store you are at the mercy of the sales rep… What I mean by that is they will assist you to the fullest and will make sure you don’t go out of their nicely layed out scuba shop, empty-handed.
Have you noticed how it looks nice when you enter a retail dive shop? All the little gadgets are the first one you see, usually the pricy ones and then it is also very easy to browse around the aisle, it seems as if all items had a place and their place was calculated in a certain way. Making it very attractive place to be, even for non-divers!
One word of advice, if you want a piece of equipment and are going to go to a shop, do your homework before! It will help the shop assistant to pin point what category of dive gear you are looking for and will maximise the time spent in the shop. Continue reading