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  1. #1

    Question Is side-mount diving being oversold?

    Hey

    With reference to the recent death at Orange Grove where it is speculated that the deceased had one empty side mount cylinder and one cylinder with 2200 psi in it - seemingly (by speculation) that it had a roll of.

    Lets for a second assume that the above speculations are factually correct.

    From the outset let me state that I do dive side-mount and no-mount (when required) but I also dive a various manifolded twins but, mostly dive with a rebreather.

    Not that long ago (about 8 years a ago when I qualified full cave) side-mount diving and any training associated therewith was reserved for the ultra experienced - i.e you hare pushing caves with restrictions that were in fact to small to dive with back-mounts. So side-mount diving was reserved for the experienced. I understand that some people have other valid reasons (Including: I have a bad back and twins are to heavy to carry, etc) to dive side-mounts.

    The reason was very simple side-mount diving is a form of independent cylinder diving and (other than balance and trim issues) creates the same risks and task loading as diving independent back mounted cylinders.

    Through many years of discussion, errors and deaths - The cave diving community at large accepted that in the great independent (which we all now does have some benefits) vs manifolded back-mount cylinders debate that the manifolded back-mounted cylinders was the correct way to go.

    Recently, I arrived at an ocean dive spot in South Africa and to my surprise I found a string op Padi (sports) divers all kitted out with the newest and greatest side-mount rigs all going for a recreational ocean dive. Seemingly the new cool thing to do.

    After looking into it a bit more it seems that the sports diving agencies, have almost all jumped onto this band wagon and that in the last couple of years the tek/cave diving agencies have reduced the requirement for doing side-mount diving - i/e you can do an intro to cave course with a side-mount.

    I was taught use the best and right equipment for the application, so if I am not going to squeeze trough restrictions I take the back-mounts or the rebreather.

    Now I am a big proponent of doing what you want without being restricted by some smart arse hall monitor, but I have to ask why are we, as a community, now regressing to a position that was resolved decades ago. I.e are promoting the wide use of side-mounting were the independent vs twin argument was resolved.

    For me use the correct equipment: intro to cave guys should be using twins - it may or may not have changed the outcome of this dive (ignoring that on the speculations a number of other rules may or may not have broken).

    Cheers Dries


  2. #2
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    "Is side-mount diving being oversold?"

    Yes!

    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
    Any opinions are personal.
    Sump Divers

  3. #3

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    You have to look at the marketing aspects of the diving industry,especially related to training. New divers will get training obviously,and some buy gear with them becoming more long term. But, how do you get the established diver who has been trained and has gear, to open up their wallet to buy more? Rebreathers are outside the realm of many,but sidemount training/gear has become that vein of gold that the industry has grasped and marketed heavily. This same thing occurred in the 90s with nitrox. Initially the dive industry rejected nitrox as dangerous, and DEMA banned it, but once it was found it could be profitable for training and gear sales, it exploded. Heck, I remember at that DEMA when it was allowed, that everybody had a nitrox something, including green nitrox mouth pieces for your regulator (LOL). Now it is caveat emptor because there is some commercial gear that is less than optimal, and you have some instructors spending a weekend themselves with new sidemount gear, and declaring themselves ready to teach.

    "Not all change is improvement...but all improvement is change" Donald Berwick

  4. #4

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    Yes.

    Next.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dive Africa View Post

    The cave diving community at large accepted that in the great independent (which we all now does have some benefits) vs manifolded back-mount cylinders debate that the manifolded back-mounted cylinders was the correct way to go.
    Says who?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dive Africa View Post
    For me use the correct equipment: intro to cave guys should be using twins - it may or may not have changed the outcome of this dive (ignoring that on the speculations a number of other rules may or may not have broken).
    This often repeated claim that there is a 'correct' configuration or type of gear in utter nonsense, imho. For the vast majority of dives being done in OW or in caves, there's hardy much, if any, upside in dives BM or SM. For most dives, BM is certainly not 'better'.

    Of course it's oversold, what product or service isn't? It's called marketing.
    Since you started out saying the recent accident caused you to think about it that way, think about how much rebreather diving is oversold these days and how many accidents there have been in recent years compared to the amount of users.
    There are people running around now claiming rebreather diving is just as safe as OC diving... this is due to marketing ('sales pitches' from your instructor are marketing too).

    I don't see a problem in overselling sidemount but I do see a huge problem in overselling rebreather diving.


  6. #6

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    yes and no, I'm with Bent and Kelly. I think it is a good tool, especially for cave diving. I think sidemount is safer than backmount for cave diving, so I dive sidemount in caves. i think backmount has a lot of advantages in open water, so I dive backmount in open water. The agencies have latched onto it and are making a lot of money with it for the recreational market which I think is absurd, but it's not because I think sidemount is dangerous or mission specific, it's because I think it is a PITA to get on and off boats with, annoying to sit at the surface with, and certainly a PITA to shore dive with compared to doubles. I dive independent doubles most of the time because it is more convenient if I have to remove the bottles from their bands, but obviously dive manifolded doubles if I have to rent/borrow them from someone and do it with no problems, it certainly makes filling easier...


  7. #7

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    I agree with Tom.

    The advantages, and the sole advantages IMHO, of the Hogarthian/DIR configured manifolded back mounted doubles were a) high level of standardization, b) fairly easy to configure for a new diver, and c) it worked ok - not optimum, but ok - in a fairly wide range of environments.

    It still had problems however, such as when a kook-aid drinker would show up on a northeast wreck dive in an area with shipping traffic, high seas, unpredictable weather, and low viz (surface and subsurface), and then decide they did not need a jon line or a more substantial up line in the event the hook came loose, as they could just use their spool with #24 cave line on it, or - my all time personal favorite stupid-ass statement - they could just "scooter the deco".

    The point here is that even that well accepted configuration benefitted from some environment specific tweaking.

    Side mount is much more wide open in terms of configuration, with few accepted standards or practices. While it is much better suited to some environments, it also has arguably narrower application.

    For example, some of the dive boats here in NC are configured with hand rails, etc that are made for the narrower back mount profile, and a side mount diver's wider profile will require some thought and planning to operate effectively off those boats.

    Unfortunately, many of the side mount divers captains see have been poorly trained by instructors who are not very experienced in side mount and don't teach it well or dive it well. The end result is side mount divers who look like yard sales on the boat deck, and they give a bad impression that then gets applied to the rest of us.

    I also dive side mount in caves and I've been doing that for about 6 years now. Like Tom, I see it as safer than back mount in a cave environment. I think it also allows for cleaner dives with greatly reduced contact in most types of cave passage.

    The problem however is the number of people diving side mount who do it very badly - with or without training. Worse, some people seem to show up with a side mount rig and then make their initial dives with it in a cavern or cave environment, with neither adequate experience or training/mentoring in the configuration.

    It's also possible that some "side mount" divers are now pushing into smaller passages that exceed their skill level, and they may be doing it in circumstances where they would not have done so in back mount. If that's happening, it's a bad thing.

    While, I took my trimix course in FL off a six pack in side mount, and that was a non problem - it just depends on the area and the boat - we still have backplates and bands and if we were diving offshore OC in NC,we'd probably band a pair of independent doubles rather than dive side mount.

    The challenge now however is diving a side mount rebreather off an NC dive boat, and we're exploring that in greater detail, but we've at least got a willing boat captain.

    NACD Cave DPV Cert # 666: Cave DPV Anti-christ

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbone1004 View Post
    I think sidemount is safer than backmount for cave diving, so I dive sidemount in caves.
    Maybe for experienced cave divers but not for newbies. Your brain is what keeps you safe and referencing the recent incident, obviously the brain shut down because it had to make too many decisions too fast. Would this have occurred if he was diving backmount? We'll never know, but there would have been a lot less decision making involved. Learn how to cave dive, then when you actually have the experience to be able to think in an underwater cave while stressed, try sidemount. Just my opinion as always...

    Safe diving,

    Rich

    Education, enjoyment and exploration.....
    http://divecaves.com
    https://www.facebook.com/divecaves

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Maybe for experienced cave divers but not for newbies. Your brain is what keeps you safe and referencing the recent incident, obviously the brain shut down because it had to make too many decisions too fast. Would this have occurred if he was diving backmount? We'll never know, but there would have been a lot less decision making involved. Learn how to cave dive, then when you actually have the experience to be able to think in an underwater cave while stressed, try sidemount. Just my opinion as always...

    Safe diving,

    Rich
    Well, what would you know about teaching newbies cave diving anyway.

    If a diver fails to first master backmount cave diving they will probably find it difficult to master sidemount cave diving. If a diver is trained from day 1 in sidemount configuration diving by someone who hasn't truly mastered either backmount or sidemount they are in even bigger trouble. If you haven't been trained by or mentored by someone who has mastered one or both configurations you really don't know what you don't know. The explosion of popularity of sidemount diving has resulted in Dunning-Kruger effect writ large.

    Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk


  10. #10

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    LOL Bob, I have yet to see someone make it through a Cavern/Intro in 4 days using SM, need at least one extra day to teach the style... The dreaded words when booking classes, "Can I do it in sidemount?" "Sure, but you going to pay me for the extra time!"

    Safe diving,

    Rich

    Education, enjoyment and exploration.....
    http://divecaves.com
    https://www.facebook.com/divecaves


 

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