Guest Blogger: Two tanks is better than one, go sidemount!

 sidemountDiving with two tanks, one tank mounted on each side, instead of one on your back is unpractical, heavy, difficult and only for tec divers, right?  Wrong! Recreational sidemount diving is actually a completely different, fun and – importantly – safe way of enjoying the underwater life.
As an instructor my job mostly involves teaching regular courses in which the student learns to dive with one tank mounted to his or her back. Up until last month, that was also the only way I knew how to dive. But working at a CDC Centre, in which all kinds of ‘unusual’ courses are taught, I saw people learning to dive sidemount and I decided I wanted to try. So after a try dive in the pool, I decided to take the sidemount specialty and instructor course with Martin van Gestel.
Sidemount has many advantages, one being that since you carry two tanks the risk of out-of-air situations is reduced considerably. Also, a sidemount configuration is very flexible, you can easily clip off a tank to give to the boat captain, making entries and exits very easy, or take your tanks in front of you when you need to go through a narrow passage. Finally, diving sidemount provides more balance underwater and – when you learn to master it, which you do in the Sidemount Specialty Course – a better buoyancy control.
It is so much fun to do too! Instead of having one tank press you down from your back, you can lean comfortably and quite effortlessly on both sidemounted tanks while enjoying the view. It was also very refreshing to learn new skills and sidemount variations on our good old backmount skills. For instance, the emergency procedures are a different diving sidemount since you have now two tanks to breath from and a long hose for your buddy to use as an alternate air source while you switch to the other tank. Also, when I laid face down on the bottom of the pool I became painstakingly aware that I had to learn to control my buoyancy all over again. And let’s just say I was lucky to be in the pool when I accidentally switched of both tanks at the same time… All of a sudden I found myself feeling like an open water student all over again. But I suppose that’s all in the game of exploring a new and cool field of diving. So if you’re looking for a new challenge in diving: Go Sidemount!

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