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Sidemount diving - first impressions

Discussion in 'General Scuba Diving' started by Wibble, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. hawk

    hawk Doing It Rong
    UKD Supporter

    Mar 29, 2012
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    Standard D ring and serrated slider
  2. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
    UKD Supporter

    Apr 7, 2014
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    Time for a progress update...

    Been treating the sidemount as a little side project, gives me something to do when there's nothing better on which this year has been quite a lot.

    I've now done six days of self-lead sidemount over the past four months, all in Wraysbury. I know what good feels like as that was on my "course" in July. Since then I've been trying to get my Xdeep harness configured and get sorted with the kit.

    Sidemount, unlike backmount, seems to require endless amounts of faffing around adjusting the harness and cylinders. Small adjustments make a large difference to the way the kit behaves in the water.

    Due to some issues with cylinders, I've been using a couple of Ali80 cylinders for practice. Ali80s behave superbly in the water, but are very 'light' and will float when empty. This means that one needs more weight on the harness to compensate, especially if wearing a drysuit. It seems far more common to use steel cylinders in the UK as these are much heavier in the water.

    I subscribed to the excellent Sidemounting.com video series by Steve Martin. There's literally hundreds of videos on this website in the form of small course fragments. They're all extremely well producted even if Steve's not the most exciting voice-over. One thing that struck me was how it differs from the DIR ways, even with his backmount videos -- for example mounting stages on both sides with bungee neck loops.

    (BTW if you're thinking of subscribing, let me know as I (think) there's a discount for referrals -- and it'll extend my membership!)

    Finally feel like I'm getting there. Had an excellent last dive in Wraysbury following on from a rather uncomfortable dive last weekend. The main issue was my weighting's changed with the onset of the colder weather. Seem to require 3 extra kilos! Once added (on a weightbelt), there's no issues with making the drysuit warm and comfy and with a little dab of gas in the wing to offset the weight of the gas in the tins.

    I fitted my umbilical torch onto the harness belt as the preferred sidemount battery, on your backside, requires a longer cable. TBH I didn't see any issues with mounting the battery on front, although it could interfere with stages and crawling through restrictions in a cave.

    My current problem is I'm struggling to reach my armpit bungees when wearing my drysuit and thick undersuit. (On sidemount you use the bungees to wrap around the cylinder neck and pull the cylinder in tight under your armpit) I'm working around this using a double-ender, but I think I'll end up using some form of bungee loop so I can use that to pull a retracted bungee out.

    The bigger tweaking with the harness meant I added four waist "Billy Ring" D-rings from Kent Tooling. These are movable out of the water but are secure once the waist belt's tightened. These are mounted with one at the back (in line with the back of my arm) and one in front (in line with the front of my arm). When I have full Ali cylinders I'll mount them on the rear D-rings, then move them to the forward ones once the tin starts to float. I'm sure that when I use steel cylinders, they'll be mounted "hung" on the back D-ring and the front D-rings will be redundant. Seems to work quite well. The other benefit is they're exceedingly easy to find (when I compare that with my DIR-compatible(ish) harness where the D-ring plays hide-and-seek)

    The last thing I did yesterday was to walk out of the lake with cylinders attached and walk a couple of hundred metres to the car. Not as comfortable as using a twinset on a backplate/harness, but proves it's possible to walk with the kit configured.

    Next couple of dives:
    * Need to use steel cylinders which will need some tweaking with the harness to get them under control. These will behave very differently when attaching and bringing forwards. Just need to do a dive and use the gas in one of my twinsets!
    * Jumping in kitted up ready for boat diving
    * Speeding up the kitting up process. Still way too much faffing.
    * Diving with stages. Am certain that this is going to be fun, not least as the stages will need configuring differently.

    All in all, pleased with playing with this configuration. Definitely easier to move two single tins around as opposed to a heavy twinset.
    Andyjloft likes this.

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