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Sidemount Diving, Cozumel Trip, Do You?

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Andrew Dawson

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Well, I am going on my first tropical vacation in 10yrs...last one was Saba back in 2011...before that was a tec diving trip on a liveaboard in Truk Lagoon.

Going to Cozumel first itme in Aug, next month. I very, very rarely dive warm water.

I have:

a full dive gear kit for cold water diving including a year old XDeep Stealth Tec 2.0 in sidemount setup [steel72s slung with MK25s and S600s tuned myself] [50 dives in SM, no formal in-person SM instruction]

You have a little bit of your old warm water setup: 3mm wetsuit does not quite fit as well now #dadbod, BCD is an old rental from 2005 you got for free, but from a reputable shop and the BCD is in good condition a Seaquest ProQD Small. My perfect fit is size ML, but it sorta fits. No backmount regs...so your SM setups need to be converted to a BM setup. Boo Total needed: BM regs, 3mm wetsuit that fits, better BCD, extra AL80 per dive.

I wonder:

Do I build a tropical/travel SM setup, leaving my SM regs untouched [save for removing the drysuit LP hose], and rocking the XDeep [which looks about the same size as that jacket style Seaquest], warm water wetsuit [prob rental], and SP jet fins? This would include cam bands for the lower side of the AL80s [most likely] and I do need to bring 2 tank hose holder bands for the long hose

Or

Do you build out the svelte [maybe sorta compared to a cold water kit?] old rental BCD backmount kit and your spliced info BM former SM regs?

I have the 5' OMS sausage, booties, masks, everything is as top notch of functional condition as I can make it, all in divable condition [or at least ready for a test ha ha], etc.

I plan on doing 6 days of boat diving...and I would not be surprised if the boat got tossed around a good bit out there as it is open to the sea. So, I have never SM boat dove before. Lots of boat diving in boats where you walk to a giant stride platform and had ladders to climb to exit the water.

So, for those who have sidemount dove [anywhere but maybe know cold water gear] and been to Cozumel...or if you just want to comment some pearls of wisdom...what would you do? :)
 

rick00001967

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if you want to put together a bm set up, why can't you just use your mk25 w/s600 ? just take a pic or make note of all the proper hose positioning before switching hose position for bm.

if you decide to dive sm you could do double tanks or single. i dive single tank sm on all my vacation dives now. i only use doubles in cenotes in mexico. but i have done doubles on a couple of trips.

normally if i am boat diving doubles in sm, i jump in with the left tank in my hand, reg in mouth, clip on in the water, and have the crew hand me my right tank, clip on in the water, and go. the problem in coz may be the current. so this method may not work very well.

if you need to jump in with both tanks fully attached, it may take some practice before trying it in coz. basically the same set up, just use a double ender to secure the top of each tank instead of bungee while on the boat. then switch to bungee in the water. stow to double enders. for exit, if conditions allow, it is best to hand up each tank. but again, if there is bad current this make not be a suitable method.

i would also check with the shop you are diving with. some shops frown on double sm and / or just don't understand how it all works.

i have also been asked in playa del carmen to show a sm cert card. this may be rare but they would not let me dive until i produced the cert.
 

Andrew Dawson

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Fantastic feedback, @rick00001967!!! I am in your debt for that :D

Sure, I can set up my MK/25 and S600s to be BM....I love my comfy, redundant SM setup tho!

OK, I really need to take into account the boat diving, in a current sensitive site, with decent swell....yeah, in that scenario...I will certainly want to be in a BM rig, considering I will have zero chance of practicing this with any kind of SM setup [cold or warm] before I go on the trip. I have zero experience in SM singles...nor do I have a cert in SM.

Yeah, I will go the nice and easy BM setup, just not too deep or far from the guides. I like to dive a bit more comfy than trying to break any records anyway :)
 

Jayfarmlaw

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First question is what op are you diving with?

Unless you have a private charter that you would need that much gas, the side mount seems like a lot of effort for no reward. Dive With Martin includes gear in their prices so you could reconfigure a MK25with another S600 as an octo and maybe a longer lp inflator hose and go with it. If you use an SPG it would need a longer hose u less you are air integrated on your computer. I imagine your regs are din so make sure you let the op know in advance. Most tanks I have seen are convertible, but getting the din adapter out after continuous salt water exposure is another issue. You don't want to be on the way to the dive site and find out your tanks are either yoke only or the adapter is permanently seized in the valve.

Other ops may make you a deal in just renting a bcd and wetsuit, if you are used to cold water diving, you probably won't want anything other than a skin....but cold is different for everybody. I generally dive a full 3 mil in Coz now but I used to just dive a skin. Getting older sucks.

There are some tech diving opportunities that you would want double tanks, but 99% of Cozumel diving is single tank rec configuration. I prefer small boats with backroll entry, but some have cutouts that would allow for a giant stride. I often dive with people who need to gear up in the water and that has never been an issue either. The key here is contact your op in advance and work out any details with them.

You're gonna love Cozumel. Warm water, pretty fishes, fantastic reefs, easy drift diving, friendly people, and some of the best dining in the world all await your arrival!

Safe travels! Please have the Lionfish Marsala at New Especias and drink a Bohemia Obscura (or 10) for me....it's only the best beer in the world!!

Jay
 

Andrew Dawson

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@Jayfarmlaw , you have brought up so many important and overlooked points, thank you!

What are the usual depths for most of the sites...say....100fsw or less?

I can ask the dive op, Roberta's Dive Shack, about renting a BCD.

I do have DIN regs...one yoke converter...so I might be OK that with with a regular BM config....and yes, I need a longer HP hose for my brass and glass SPG. Good work! I currently have the 2 MK25s, 2 S600s and I have 2 30" hoses. I need the longer LP inflator and longer HP hose [these will go to my diver brother in law after the trip].

I am going with low expectations...I mean, I expect to go out on a boat...I expect to get in the water and do a scuba dive....I just want to take it easy and have some safe fun :D

Also, the dive op said they max out at about 1hr for dives...so...have 160cf of gas [2 AL80s in SM] would probably put me over an hour each time anyway.

I have not tec dove in quite a while...and am not looking to spin any tec diving up on this trip...some dives that hit 130fsw in good, clear water sounds appealing to me...but...I do not want to get too crazy :D

I will probably BM dive with their steel 100cf tank rental option.
 

Jayfarmlaw

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The vast majority of the dives sites will be less than 100 feet. At the far North and Far South ends they can get to over 100 feet, but those sites take lots of fuel and time to get to. I have never dove with Roberta's Dive Shack but just make sure they know what your needs are in advance. Nitrox is always a good idea.

If they are running 45 minute to 1 hour dives, I doubt you are going deep. Most of the boat on an aluminum 80, Some divers with air consumption rates on par with a Boeing jet engine, going Deep would lead to very short dives.

It seems most dives are in the 80 foot range for the first dives and 60 or shallower for the second. If you do get deeper than that, it will be a bounce and start working your way shallower immediately. Many of my favorite dives are in the 40-60 foot depth where all the pretty fish are.

No need to go with low expectations, I think you will be amazed at just how good the diving is. The Reef is not what it used to be 20 years ago, and the coral wasting disease did hit the brain coral pretty hard, but it is still world class diving and the drift diving makes it even better. When you throw in the food, the people, and the feel of the island, I'll bet this won't be your last trip to Coz.

Now....since you are there for a week, have a tech bug and side mount trained, consider taking a day or two and hopping the ferry to Playa Del Carmen and dive cenotes with Cenote Xperience. The water is usually in the 60's but is gin clear and the cenotes are some of the most beautiful dives I have ever done. Unless you are in a halocline or sulphur dioxide layer, it's almost like the water is not there at all. Gin clear is not an exaggeration. They aren't for everyone, my wife was one and done, but I try to do a day on every trip.

Safe travels, look out for that family of vampires that lives in the woods up there....warewolves too....

Jay
 

SlugMug

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Do you have a 19cu (or similar) pony you could bring?

A few days ago, I decided to try side-mount, with 1x AL80cu (left) & 1x 19cu pony. It worked great! I'm thinking I may do the majority of my 1-tank recreational dives this way. Maybe do a day of practice-dives locally with this setup first, to verify you're comfortable with it, and figure out first-hand if you need to make any changes.
 

rick00001967

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I decided to try side-mount, with 1x AL80cu (left) & 1x 19cu pony. It worked great!

i always like to encourage people to try new ways of doing things. i think i remember a thread about trying this. perhaps it was yours. and if this works for you i think thats great. but can you pls breifly explain what your rational for doing this is ? i am genuinely interested.

for me, i have been in conditions where a single bm plus a 19cf pony (or larger) worked great. i wish the shops we use in coz had this as an option. i think coz would be a good place to do this.

i enjoy sm with a single tank, but if i was going to sm two tanks, i think i would keep things simple by using the same size tanks. i am trying to find the advantage to having two dismilar tanks.
 

Andrew Dawson

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i enjoy sm with a single tank, but if i was going to sm two tanks, i think i would keep things simple by using the same size tanks. i am trying to find the advantage to having two dismilar tanks.

How bad is the roll with SM one tank, say a 100cf steel...and an Xdeep Stealth.....I imagine I will be rolling a decent amount, not super relaxed.
 

MichaelMc

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How bad is the roll with SM one tank, say a 100cf steel...and an Xdeep Stealth
With one LP85 at 2500, I needed a two lb. weight at arm's length to the side to be level.

i have been in conditions where a single bm plus a 19cf pony (or larger) worked great.
I'm not sure of the op's reasons, but to me:

An AL19, freedom plate, and main tank would likely provide similar underwater flexibility to move and look around as sidemount, except for arching your back and looking directly up without hitting the valve. My regular non-freedom backplate, not so much.

But a sidemount rig with 80 and 19 is likely not much more trouble topside. Plus it may add the option of passing up the main tank at dive's end. For a negative main tank, you might add a weight pocket to the 19 to fix the imbalance (as heretical as weights on tanks might be).

I'm assuming the op does not have sets of LP50s that they keep filling for us, but rather an endless stream of standard back-mount tanks. Diving an 80 and 19 on a 'we're not so happy with sidemount' boat would be much easier than waddling off and on with two AL80s, plus it would be lighter.

It is 'monkey plus a quarter' diving.
 
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