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Drawbacks of Sidemount, compared to backmount diving

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by DevonDiver, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. DA Aquamaster

    DA Aquamaster Directional Toast ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: NC
    I agree with Rob in that your center of gravity is much more advantageous in side mount than in back mount when coming aboard a pitching boat ladder.

    The qualifier here however is that some ladders can have hand rails at the top that are designed to be just wide enough for a back mount diver and are thus too close together to enable a side mount diver to go straight through. In that case you may have to pivot and twist a bit to get through.

    A gear line, if dropped from midship, is not going to heave nearly as much as one at the bow or stern, so in rough conditions, arranging in advance for a gear line to be available to allow you to hook one tank on the line, will let you complete the exit with just one tank. That ensures you have breathing gas for the swim to the stern and the exit, yet it reduces the tank weight by half and gives you a profile that's narrow enough to slide through skinny gates or handrails. In calm conditions it's not a big deal as in technical diving stages are usually handed aboard or clipped on a gear line. Same with scooters and cameras.

    I recall one dive off NC where it started rough (5-6 seas with rapid timing) then got worse (8 ft seas with the same short interval between swells). Getting back aboard a crew boat on a long ladder that was pitching through a 10 ft arc was interesting with double 95s. With 100 plus pounds of tank, plate and gas, it was an exercise in careful timing to get on the ladder then time your steps up the ladder, but still required a great deal of leg strength and balance, especially for the last long step aboard. I'd have much preferred to have had the option of clipping a tank off on a line and hauling it aboard separately after I was aboard. Even without that option, I think it would have been easier to come aboard with side mount tanks and their lower CG, provided they are properly rigged with bolt snaps on the valves secured to the harness.

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