Teaching the PADI Sidemount Course has to be one of my firm favourites, seeing students start working as a team, planning dives and improving their overall diving skills. Its a great course with loads of benefits for your diving and you just look awesome too!
We then started setting up the cylinders and sizing the bands so that we all had the correct position for the perfect trim. Time to start kitting up, starting with taking the cylinder down to the entry point (a little bit of rock negotiation here). Mark and I started assisting the students on clipping in and getting into the water. Once in we started to do weight checks ready to begin the dive.
The longest of the 4 dives, the first was a 70 minute dive at a depth of 7 meters and a warm 16C. Once we descended down the benefits of side mount were obvious right away, great trim even before we had a play and made the tweaks that were needed. Once all the skills were complete we finished off with a little bimble around on the dive site, loads of life and a very pleasant dive to finish off.
Once out we had another discussion about the dive and how much they enjoyed their first experience and how different it is to dive with a sidemount setup. After an hour surface interval it was time to get back in the water but first to decant the cylinders and balance them out ready for the next dive.
Our second dive was 48 minutes long at a depth of 6 meters with the temperature again 16C. We made our way back to the control line ready to improve on the skills and techniques from dive one. Between skills we had a visitor, my favourite animal - the seal - decided to come and join in and show us all off its own amazing skills. We then went for a little dive along the rocks where the students had to deal with any situation I decided to throw at them. This was me sneaking above, below or behind, pushing the purge on their regulators or unclipping a cylinder and they all coped really well. Then time to get back to rock climbing and drag all the equipment up what felt like a mountain. Packed up, discussed the day and headed back to Plymouth for a nice cream tea (Jam on first as we were in Cornwall of course!)
Another early start at the shop, cylinder filling and loading the van ready for the day ahead. We ventured to Talland Bay in Cornwall this time, a beautiful beach entry shore dive not far from Looe. We arrived to an empty car park and empty beach.. unsurprisingly that didn’t last long! A nice cup of coffee, a thorough dive brief and skill assessment and we were ready for dive number 3.
Dive three was 52 minutes long at a depth of 9 meters, the water was a little cooler that day at 15C. The students really saw the benefit of side mount for entry on this dive, carrying their cylinder into the water and clipping off with ease. 13 skills on this dive covering those they had practiced already but now working on their speed. A swelly dive but this still didn’t stop the students conducting their skills mid water and at a good speed and great technique. Finishing off with a bimble and again with me sneaking around giving them simulated emergencies. We had an hour surface interval where we enjoyed a real proper Cornish pasty ..... ummmmm!
The final dive of the course was 44 minutes at a depth of 8 meters and 15C. 10 skills on this one, to ensure the students could master these with ease by now. The whole dive again was me sneaking around throwing simulated situations for them to deal with. Finishing the dive with a simulated safety stop where all students held their position at 5 meters without kicking or sculling for a full 10 mins. Even with the swell they nailed it! End of the dive we packed up and discussed the whole weekend and talked about moving on to doing the PADI tec sidemount course. Made our way back to clean and de-kit back at the shop and finished the whole weekend with a pint at the marina bar, a well-deserved drink for all.