Our Michelle, our divemaster trainee tried out a sidemount configuration in the pool with Instructor Markus in Bunaken today. It was a lot of fun to do some “out of air” skills, taking of one tank and continue diving with the remaining tank. We also did some finning techniques.
The sidemound configuration originated amongst dry cave explorers in the UK in the 1960s after they approached underwater passages that hindered their progression. They used a minimalistic approach by using a cylinder mounted alongside their body.
Cave divers further developed the equipment in taking a standard BC and configured the primary cylinders to their sides and strapped down the air cell of their BC.
For many years sidemount diving stayed in the cave diving world. More recently, with several equipment manufacturers developing sidemount specific BCs, there is no longer a need to make major equipment modifications, and sidemount diving has exploded into the non-overhead technical environments and even further into sport diving.
Here are some of the benefits of sidemount diving:
Ease of streamlining equipment. When you need or want more than one cylinder, sidemount provides a very streamlined package.
Easier equipment transport. Most people find it easier to carry and wear two smaller cylinders instead of one large cylinder.
Divers with physical challenges may find this a big advantage, especially in that it allows them to don equipment in the water (one or two cylinders).
Versatility. Sidemount works well with many recreational diving activities making it a great way to expand your capabilities with a single basic configuration.
Increased gas supply. Using enriched air nitrox and an EANx dive computer, you often have so much no stop dive time that you run out of gas long before you approach a no decompression limit. The ability to use two cylinders lets you enjoy more of this no stop dive time.
Accessibility. In sidemount, the regulator first stage and valves are in front of you where they’re visible and accessible. This makes it easier to spot and deal with
Problem solving. With two-cylinder sidemount, you can handle an out-of gas problem without your buddy as your primary alternate air source.
When you stay with us in Bunaken or Amed you can try out sidemount diving for free in the pool. But be aware quite often people want to do a sidemount course afterwards…!