Sitting here in Southend, my daughter Chloe and me, have turned our conversation to our scuba diving on the sunshine island of Koh Tao. Now she is already a Divemaster and Sidemount Diver and our family have all learnt to dive at Sunshine Divers.
What experience do I need to enable me to Sidemount Dive?
You need to be at least 15 years of age and an open water diver.
Why Sidemount Dive?
- Sidemount diving gives an introduction into the world of tech diving and as a recreational diver it provides you with different options to the traditional and well-known backmount way of diving.
- Gives longer dives due to more air.
- Allows you to improve your positioning and be perfectly balanced in the water. (Only if you learn it and apply the learning in practice)
- Creates adaptability when diving. So you can explore different types of dive sites.
- and you look wicked!!
“After a few days of waiting we finally got to start our ‘Recreational Sidemount’ course! A short taxi ride in the rain on the little island of Koh Tao and we were at the dive centre meeting our Instructor, Chris. Quickly filling out some paperwork so we could get down to the exciting bit!
We started with a classroom session, this was about an hour-long, Chris was explaining to us the history, advantages, safety aspects, why people use it and the differences between this and the most commonly used backmount. We then filled out a knowledge review, went through the answers and bam! The classroom session done and dusted.
Before we knew it we were out on the deck trying on BCD’s, fitting it to ourselves, after lots of adjusting sizes an figuring out how the damn thing went on (sometimes not comfortably and feeling slightly like we were about to go skydiving) we were ready to get into the water!
Once poolside Chris asked us to kneel next to two tanks so he could adjust it to our heights (we would be using the same tanks for the duration of the course) he then showed us how to attach each regulator and how to stow the hoses away neatly and efficiently!
Popping our tanks on the edge of the pool we then donned our gear (Wetsuit, BCD, boots, fins, mask and computer) and jumped into the pool. On the surface Chris then demonstrated to us, how to attach the tanks to ourselves. After lots of fiddling around and getting comfortable we were finally ready to go down. We practiced a few skills underwater, such as buddy breathing (which is different with sidemount than with backmount) how to attach and reattach our tanks, how to switch regulators and check our air gauges. After some more quick adjustments we were swimming around, getting used to the feel of using two tanks and practicing our reverse frog kicks… Now were ready to go into the ocean!
Getting our gear on was the easy bit, moving 10 tanks from resort to taxi to boat, was the hard part. Gearing up as soon as we were on the boat gave us time to relax and enjoy the 40 minute boat ride over to Chumphon Pinnacle (my favourite dive site) We jumped in the warm water and descended down to around 30m, Chris continued to see if we were switching regulators, coming over to us every now and again signalling that he was out of air to see if we reacted correctly, after doing a few skills with each other we had the chance to enjoy a fun dive! Seeing schools of Yellowtail Barracuda and corals filled with Pink Anemone fish, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I was enjoying the dive. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, such as our No Decompression Limit, we slowly done a safety stop and ascended to the surface. We had a short swim back to the boat which consisted of taking our right tank off and stowing the hose neatly to pass up to the boat boy, when back to the boat with one less tank, we stowed the hose of the left one, passed the tank up and climbed onto the boat. Easy!
I would like to thank Chris from Bans Technical Diving for being a great instructor and making sure we had a great course! We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.” chloegoesbarefoot