PADI Recreational Side Mount course in Subic Bay, Philippines with Andy Davis

It was time for something else and one of my internet friends, Andy Davis, who lives in Manila, Philippines, was willing to teach me that something else and new; the PADI recreational side mount course. You can read Andy's blog entry here.

I was very excited, first of all to meet Andy, we build up some mutual respect and friendship over time online and also I was excited to get to dive on a side mount set up. I heard only good things about and was roaring to go!

Conditions weren't very good the first day, the Philippines are currently undergoing some serious flooding and Subic, where Andy and me met, is no exception. We still managed to go out though and after some elaboration and explanation and messing around with setting up the equipment, we completed our confined water dive and got two real fantastic dives in.

Diving on side mounts is really different, you don't need a conventional recreational BCD or tech wing or anything like that, but just a simple, flexible back plate with a couple of d-rings and two bungees to keep the tanks, one left and one right, under control. Since you dive with two tanks, you carry twice the amount of air with you but you also need two first stages and SPG's (with very short high pressure hoses), a short hosed second stage and a long hosed second stage.

The two tanks before the dive, after set up

Your weights are distributed in the back plate and you can tuck a wright on each bottom side of the tank to lessen the upward buoyancy of the tanks whilst they empty during the dive. A lot of the skills deal with the regulators, recovering a regulator, switching regulators, out of air simulations and a couple of hovering skills, un-clipping the tanks and putting them in front of you so you can wiggle your way through small entrances and/or exits.

The Hollis sms 100 bcd system

This was all done under the expert, relaxed and fun teaching style of Andy. he's very safety conscious and knows all the dive sites and wrecks in Subic Bay inside out from over hundreds of dives on them.
We dived 'the Barges' and 'El Capitan', both world war 2 area wreck dive sites.

The dives on the side mount system were what I expected, interesting, new, a little bit challenging in the beginning, but I'm converted, I would dive side mounts all the time from now on if I could afford the set up! I hope to be able to complete the dives first of all for this course, due to the flood situation around the Philippines and Subic (our dives today were cancelled) and secondly to complete the next step, the Tec side mount course and log enough dives so I can teach this soon as well! Thanks to Andy for his support and mentoring and the fun and excitement provided!


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