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Sidemount gear configuration practices - 4 questions

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by Colliam7, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. KodyWalley

    KodyWalley Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
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    Hey Victor thanks for taking the time to reply

    I had never thought of the stems as being delicate that is an interesting point. I am able to quickly and easily reach all of the valves on my tanks (so far up to 6) with either hand. Of course it probably helps I'm in a wet suit!

    Ok I can agree with the point on the 2nd long hose. I suppose I imagined it being well routed like my current long hose but as I mentioned I don't dive with 2 long hoses. Is there a good story behind his entanglement? I have heard some hardcore caving SMers suggest not having any long hoses on any tank, as in the event you need to share air you should be able to donate the entire tank (with a group of SMers). This is a little radical to me. Equipment solution to a skills problem.. I like that one!

    I would really appreciate if you could elaborate with respect to my SM technique!

    Cool good idea I'll check out the intro page.

    ---------- Post added April 4th, 2014 at 02:13 AM ----------

    Right! At this point I have done many more SM dives than twin dives and it feels more natural to me to always be able to turn the valve, with either hand, wherever the tank is situated, on and off the same way. Equipment malfunction now seems like a nightmare in twins compared to SM :)
     
  2. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
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    I have been sidemounting in caves for over 10 years,and routinely use nothing but short hoses. Most cave divers who sidemount dive sidemount configuration,but are not sidemounting,which puts them in very restricted conditions. The shorter the hose the better because it makes it easier to address entanglements when entering confined areas,because there is nothing worse then having a long hose behind your neck stuck on a rock and can't reach to undo it. Is it possible to exchange tanks in an OOA situation? Yes,I have practiced this with a dive buddy,but it is definetly a last ditch solution because it can be challanging to do. More often sidemounters are self sufficient in the gear and gas planning,so long hoses aren't really needed. For example,I enter a very silty restriction,then more likely I am going to blow this area out,and I won't see my dive buddy for some time,so I become a self- independent solo diver at that time. There are times when I am diving in nonsidemount situtations where I will dive 2 5ft hoses,but I never,ever wrap a hose around my neck-call it falling back on a skill set.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  3. Colliam7

    Colliam7 Tech Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kents Store, VA
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    Kody, thanks for joining the discussion. I must admit that you have added a dimension that I had not fully considered, with regard to the valves - intentionally using only right hand valves, and orienting the valve handle on the right cylinder inward. I can understand your stated logic.

    The actual initial question related to the valve aperture / opening, rather than to the orientation of the handles - i.e. do you orient your cylinders so that the apertures face away from you, or face toward you. Therefore, are the first stages in contact with the diver's body, or are they positioned slightly away from the body? In my own experience, the majority of SM divers use left and right hand valves, with the handles oriented to the outside, to ease manipulation of the valves, as Victor mentioned - it has little to do with an appearance of being symmetrical. It is a practice that probably also reflects the background that many SM divers have in back-mounted doubles, where the valve handles are oriented to the outside of the diver's body, also to ease manipulation.
    True . . . unless you were moving backwards, to extricate yourself from a tight passage, in which case a valve closure would potentially be even more detrimental, if you were unable to move your hands up to re-open it. Personally, I haven't run into a situation where a roll-off valve closure has occurred in SM - for me it is a greater concern in BM, where the valves are behind the diver and, in a low overhead, roll-off may occur without the diver realizing it, until there is a need to breath from the necklace reg. Obviously, one advantage of having left and right hand valves is that a dual roll-off should not occur, whether your cylinders are in back of you or in front of you. But, many SM divers also use two cylinders both with standard right hand valves, and if it works for you to position the right cylinder so that the valve handle is turned toward the center of the chest (I presume you use your left hand to open / close both valves) that is great. That also means, if I understand you correctly, that you dive with the valve apertures facing toward your body, rather than away from your body, which was the original question.
    I am not sure if I would say it is a 'flaw', but putting a long hose on a bungee necklace somehow seems . . . inefficient, at least to me. The argument in favor of dual long hoses is that it allows the diver to donate whatever reg is in the diver's mouth at the time another diver needs air, with the benefit of the longer hose and without the encumbrance of a necklace. If you put a long hose on a necklace, conceivably the second stage will still pull free as needed (unless you do something like tighten the bungee around the mouthpiece with tie-wraps - which I never do). But, while I definitely see the point of two long hoses, and used that configuration for a time before returning to a short hose / bungeed necklace on the left, I am not sure I see any point in putting the second stage on a necklace in that situation. As with most things at this point in SM, it is not 'wrong', just - shall we say - uncommon.

    Again, thanks for sharing the perspectives.
     
  4. KodyWalley

    KodyWalley Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
    26
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    Cool thanks for sharing ... hmm that is neat I see how that makes sense. Are your hoses basically only as long as your arms reach?

    I have to say I route my long hose around my neck which offers a little convenience but I can see how that could turn into a noose. You have given me much to think about!

    Do you dive with the Razor?

    ---------- Post added April 4th, 2014 at 04:42 AM ----------

    Hey Colliam

    Thanks for your thoughtful post

    Ok yup valve apertures facing forward as you have figured out, but the 1st stages do not touch my body... it depends, I can open all tanks with either hand depending what I am doing. I suppose I dive in the SM a little unconventionally... I haven't really thought about it... this forum is cool!

    I have a hard time imagining being in a situation where a valve rolls off as well (in sm) definitely agree it has been a concern in back mount but we don't have to talk about that you won't catch me in a back mount again! haha

    I agree I couldn't imagine putting a necklace on a long hose or at least it feels strange. Mr. Karst has me considering getting rid of the long hose all together or at least not wrapping it around my neck .. I do tighten the bungee around the mouthpiece, do you use something that can pull free? I think my philosophy has always been I can cut it loose if I need to but I didn't want it falling out by itself?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  5. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

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    Any time!! Anybody enthusiastic and willing to learn will learn a lot from these boards, as long as you learn to filter out the garbage....including mine. My thought is to intake as much as possible, decide what I like, and dismiss the rest until presented with a valid point. If something I say doesn't jive with you, tell me why not. You might change how I dive. Even if it doesn't, YOU need to like the reasons for diving how YOU do.

    As for the valve stems: they are "relatively" delicate. That's why most new tanks, and all tanks tech divers use, have a rubbery knob on them. The rubbery knob helps reduce some of the impact, both on land and in the water. Mostly it's in the water that it helps, because water dampens motion so much you only really need a small bumper. On the surface, forces are much less impeded and therefore the rubber knob does very little for anything other than small bumps. But, in a cave, in backmounted doubles, diving along and bumping the ceiling....rubber helps a lot. It's actually a requirement with some instructors (maybe agencies??). For that reason, I don't consider my valves to be all too fragile.

    As for manipulating six valves, can you do two at the same time when diving two tanks?

    Donating a tank is considered VERY radical by many. Kelly (karstdvr) does a lot of things that I don't see the need for, but he . I think it takes too much time and is too risky in many situations. I dive caves where the silt is >15ft thick. Dropping a tank would mean diving in the silt to get it or losing it forever. I also think it takes longer to switch tanks than just share air. THAT's why I wear a long hose, for the VERY rare event that someone runs out of gas. The VAST majority of my buddies are diving a SM config (I've dove caves with one doubles diver, twice) so they'll get PLENTY of warning for when they're out of gas. One tank runs dry, they signal they're not happy, switch tanks, I calmly donate to help them reserve SOME independence, and we calmly walk out. The story behind my buddy's entanglement is pretty good, but he'd kill me if I posted the whole thing. Long story short, an over-the-shoulder inflator wedged him one way and the long hose looped around a rock the other way. He stows his hoses VERY neatly, but everything went slightly wrong on that dive.....as Murphy is wont to do. As for hardcore SM cavers, these guys are typically diving much more conservatively than thirds and are often diving solo....where a long hose simply isn't necessary.

    That's a fairly common phrase on here, and is an AWFUL way to live. If you find part of your kit is specifically there to compensate your lack of skill, eliminate it and build the skill it replaces, ASAP. The fundamentals are crucial in scuba diving, even for calm, shallow, still-water reef dives. It makes diving SO much more fun. Replace equipment with skill, and there's less to fail and less crutch.

    I'll message you, but overall it looked pretty good. There were some points where the tanks were a little wonky and out of trim, but that's not hard to fix...especially since there were divers in that video had perfect tank trim. You want the valve in your armpit and the tank parallel to your body (flat). Most were close, a couple could use work, but nothing awful. Like I said, "a little help."

    It's funny, because it's all about muscle memory. I can guarantee you that Jarrod Jablonski (head of GUE) is much better at valve drills in doubles than I am in sidemount. He has a level of muscle memory I simply don't have. I've built up a muscle memory to feather valves considering the tank knobs are pointing outwards. My gear setup (bungee) is specifically for knobs-out. It's MUCH easier to reach my outwards-facing knobs and spin them backwards than my rightwards-facing knobs and spin them the same direction.


    A side note I'd like to mention just to add another thought to the thread is this: When on vacation and diving two "normal" (right-handed) valves, I dive both knobs outwards and let the first stages be where they may. If diving that way, I put my left-post SPG down the tank and flip my first stage over, because I like the routing with the turret on my side and not away from me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  6. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
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    ???


    I agree that exchanging tanks is not worth it. We practiced this skill to have it available as a just in case scenario,but this would not be be first choice. First choice is good gas planning for self independence. Many dives I do sidemounting,convential gas sharing isn't practical,because gas sharing on a 7ft hose through a tight restriction,with 0 viz, will result in 2 vicitims


    I don't classify myself as hardcore,but I do very conservative gas planning,and don't use long hoses ( I think currently I am using 24 on right,and 36 on left). I enter enough sidemount situtations to adopt these configurations,and I am sure there are other people who use different configurations successfully.
     
  7. KodyWalley

    KodyWalley Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
    26
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    Cool man you have a great attitude I agree with that statement I am already learning things! It's kind of amazing to see so many avid and progressive divers ...

    Ahhh yes I have to say my deco tanks do not have rubber handles and I don't like them as much! That would definitely make them more durable. Wish I had thought about that when I bought them. The 2 tanks I use for back gas.. hah! bottom mix! have the rubber handles.

    I can turn them both at the same time while diving 2 tanks yes

    Hmm back to the cave diving. Yikes! I can see how donating a tank would be difficult in fear you would lose it/the vis being very poor ... either way I definitely think sharing air is first priority before considering passing over the tank. This conversation brought flashbacks of a story from Shecks book where he escaped a cave system from max penetration while sharing air.

    Right well that's good news as I was the only diver in the video haha! I can get it right sometimes! Watching the video I can agree with you in some parts there was some sloppy trim ... I actually swapped the blue tank half way through which might explain why it looked a little funky (ok at least thats my excuse!) I think I can spot an over buoyant tank needing to be adjusting to a lower D-ring as well. I always talk about how every day I could improve trim and these small details, just need to start putting it into practice thank you for mentioning that!

    Right on with muscle memory I completely agree. I was generally commenting on equipment malfunction like we all know in sm if anything goes wrong its right in front of you and easier to diagnose and then it gets to muscle memory.

    What do you mean by the turret?

    Oh man its 5:30 I'll check back in tomorrow or I will be up all night .. err.. all morning on this forum lol
     
  8. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

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    Sorry. I'm tired. It's early.....and I'm ACTUALLY DIVING TOMORROW!!! I have the list of crap to pack flowing through my head because I'm driving towards caves tonight!

    I meant there are things you do I don't see a need for or necessarily agree with, like your short hoses. You like it (obviously) and see a need for it to be your configuration. I have a need to be able to donate a long hose.....if for no other reason than I don't ever feel like changing my reg setup around and my wife is an OW single tank diver and I ALWAYS want to be able to donate to her. It also makes it easier to dive with buddies as they don't get the feeling that I'm out to kill them if something goes wrong, especially BM doubles divers.

    As for your point on planning gas independence, that's my favorite thing about sidemounting. You have that ability.
     
  9. kwinter

    kwinter Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Jersey
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    Chill out, Victor. Please don't make judgements like people having skill problems when they may have a perfectly logical reason for their configuration. In my opinion, if sidemount had developed before back mounted doubles, the "standard" configuration would very likely have been dual long hoses. Why? Because the long hose developed out of a need to share gas in tight spaces in single file or next to each other. But because the "standard" was also to donate the reg you were breathing (since that is the one that would be grabbed by an OOG diver), then it became the standard to breathe the long hose.

    All perfectly logical. And it makes sense to have a single long hose that you breathe from in a backmount situation where the tanks are manifolded and you only breathe from one reg. But it doesn't make sense in a sidemount situation, or even in backmount when diving independent twins. The logic of always having a long hose on the reg in your mouth still makes sense, but requires 2 long hoses.

    Of course that means other trade offs, such as double the entanglement risk that long hoses present. But if it is worth that risk to have one, then why not two? And wrapping a long hose around your neck was developed because it was needed in order to be able to deploy the hose in backmount configuration. But those same hoses can be tucked in sidemount.

    Every configuration involves compromise and balance of risk/reward. I find it helpful to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch with logic rather than use established configurations and try to alter them to fit new situations.

    And someone who chooses a trade off that I wouldn't should not be accused of using it to make up for a skills deficiency.



    Please pardon any typos. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    1,852
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    113
    Understand,I was a little confused at first.

    I agree with what you are saying. If I guide,especially with a backmount diver,then I move to two 5 ft hoses. Have some good dives.
     

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