Cave Sidemount (NSS CDS and TDI only)
Sidemount is fast becoming the lifestyle choice of more and more cave divers. It offers many advantages over the standard back mount system, and is FUN too! The ease of transporting single cylinders to and from dive sites saves the divers back from heaving heavy loads over sometimes long distances and/or steep inclines. Sidemounting your cylinders is something to consider also when dealing with factors such as steep climbs, the need to lower equipment, limited gas fills, remote sites, long walks to the dive site and rough terrain. Sidemounting also enables divers to configure for cave diving in nearly any location in the world where scuba diving activities are conducted by allowing for use with standard single cylinders.
The Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver course is not intended to train divers for all facets of sidemount cave diving.
What it is:
Side mount diving configurations and techniques are fast becoming recognized as an accepted and safe mode of diving in underwater caves. Many manufacturers are now supplying off-the-shelf harness and buoyancy devices that allow divers to take advantage of years of in water testing and modifications. These systems are comfortable, safe and allow the cave diver to move into side mounting with relative ease.
Sidemounting in caves is certainly not new. This system was used by lots of the early explorers (eg Rob Palmer), and as gave a distinct advantage over back mount: explorers could move through much smaller cave passages in order to find more cave. However, this style of diving can be enjoyed, without EVER entering a small space.
Agencies we teach for:
NSS-CDS and TDI
See Prices Page
This includes your cave manual, your dive training, a certification card from your chosen agency, and photos (above and below water).
What not included is gear hire, gas fills, food, lodging, dive site fees & transportation. Dive site fees range from $10-$30, depending on site. We use Nitrox for cave diving, which costs more than air.
A book called Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint For Survival by Sheck Exley is also required for all Cave students.
The more you read and prepare for your cave course, the more enjoyable it will be for you!
Gear you need to provide:
You will need to have the following gear:
* Mask (low volume)
* Spare mask: Sidemount passages yield more contact, there is more of a chance of pulling off a mask, or being kicked in the face in small passages
* Fins (no split fins!, straps must be spring straps or taped)
* 2 regulators (must be high performance, and serviced within the last year)
* Each regulator must have its' own dedicated
submersible pressure gauge.
* Long hose (7 footer) on one of your regulators
* Suitable Sidemount harness and wing, with sufficient lift to manage tanks.
* Wet/drysuit (Drysuit strongly recommended)
* Weights (if necessary).
* Tanks must be in a sidemount configuration, and equipped with DIN valves. Whatever tanks are chosen must supply sufficient gas to complete class dives.
To sign up for this course you need to already be comfortable and proficient diving sidemount.
* Primary Light, Canister Style Minimum 10 Watt HID
* Two Backup Lights
* A primary reel (at least 400 feet of line),
* Safety reel (minimum 75 feet of guideline)
* Two gap reels with fifteen 50 feet/15 meters of guideline.
* Computer or watch with tables
* Backup Bottom Timer/Depth/Computer
* Two knifes (recommended is a Z knife, to be arm or chest mounted)
* At least three line arrows and three cookies
* Wetnotes or Slate with pencil
Cave diving is a very demanding activity, and a gear intensive pursuit, your life and that of your buddy depends on the gear you use.
Choose your gear wisely!
If you have questions about gear choices call us! We have a wide selection of what is currently on the market, and have been training cave divers for many years, so we know whats good and whats not. Most local dive shops do not know what is appropriate gear for cave diving, and will sell you gear that has no place in a cave. Please call us in advance of your gear purchases.
What the course entails:
Here at Dayo Scuba, we allow our students to use sidemount configurations in their training from Cavern level right up to through Cave, as their primary configuration (if the student demonstrates full proficiency, ease and comfort with their configuration). This does NOT qualify them as a Sidemount Diver in the sense of advanced exploration techniques. The student will only receive the appropriate Cavern/Cave Diver certification, and not a Sidemount Diver certification.
The Sidemount Specialty Cave course is an academic and water based course that reinforces and expands on sidemount diving skills. It allows cave divers to SAFELY use sidemount as a redundant configuration, and as an advanced form of cave diving (if the diver choses to use it that way). The Sidemount Specialty Diver course teaches the diver advanced techniques including in-water cylinder removals, negotiating restrictions and gas management considerations for a truly independent cylinder configuration.
You will be presented with various cave diving scenarios, and YOU are responsible for dive planning, gas management and dive execution. At this level, your cave diving skills are expected to be at a very high level and that is the principal criteria in determining your successful completion of this course.
How we teach it:
There are two parts, the academics and the wet portion.
The academics are done at home from your Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver Manual. This guide is very well structured, informative learning tool, and excellent alternative to multiple day or evening lectures.
After you work through the manual, you will do a written test, either at home or some point before your cave course begins. You need to achieve at least 80% on your written test to pass.
You will do a full review of the academics including (but not limited too):
- Accident Analysis
- Motivations for wanting to dive sidemount.
- Primary advantages of sidemount.
- Managing gas supply.
- Equipment and configuration
- Methods of progression in low silty passages.
- Added tasks for sidemount divers
- Methods of line deployment, where passages are small and without projections
- Managing restrictions
- Air sharing and other emergencies.
For the wet training, we typically do two days in the water (and at least 4 dives), and a series of vital skills such as:
- S-drill, air share, equipment check and gear matching will begin every dive.
- Effective communications with both light and hand signals.
- Show a high degree of awareness of the environment and dive team.
- Appropriate gas management
- Running and following a safe guideline in caves
- Familiarization and exploration of caves
- Use techniques for efficient conservation-minded propulsion techniques.
- Cool and calm proficiency with all simulated emergency situations.
- Demonstrate above-average buoyancy control, at all points during the dive when wearing sidemount, while having good trim and propulsion technique.
- Manage restrictions
All dives will include a pre-dive briefing, bubble check, s drill, gear matching, good dive team skills, safety stop and post dive critique.
Note: this is not a fully inclusive list, just an overview!
Specific skills depend on training agency.
It should be noted that participation in this class does not guarantee certification.
As mentioned, at this level of training, it is expected that your cave diving skills are at a very high level.
Each student must do the required number of dives, all the skills, and demonstrate that they are comfortable with planning and executing safe and fun cave dives before they receive their certification card.
After successful completion of your academics and water work, you will awarded your certification as a Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver. This is your ticket to explore other caves, with other dive buddies, using sidemount tank configuration. However, at Dayo Scuba we also mentor our students (at no extra cost), so you can gain additional experience in your favorite type of diving.
You must be at least 18 years old to receive a Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver certification, there is no maximum age.
Minimum number of students per class:
We need 2 people to make a Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver class; private, one-on-one classes can be organized for a separate fee.
How many people are in each class?
Our Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver classes range in size, from 1-2 students. As we travel out of town for this class, usually there are at least two instructors, and another cavern/cave class going on at the same time as yours.
Schedule/Timing for Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver Course:
We train all the time, and have multiple instructors on staff, many full time, so we do weekday and weekend classes.
Call us or check out our Calendar for dates of upcoming courses.
How long does the course take?
Usually we complete the wet portion of the Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver in 2 days, with at least fours dives.
Sometimes it is necessary to be in the water more than the required number of days because of learning difficulties or weather issues. If necessary, you can come back, free of charge, and join in another Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver to finish your training. We will also train you for any extra days you may need to get you properly certified. It is our mission to make you a safe and competent diver.
Where we do our course:
We usually do our Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver training in North Florida, the caves there are very beautiful, and ideal for training (Orange Grove Springs, Peacock Springs, Little River Springs). We are very limited to cave choice around the Orlando area. We dive at least three different caves for the Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver course.
Prerequisites for Course:
* Before participating in the Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver course, you will be asked to fill out a standard liability release form and a medical statement. If you answer YES to anything on the medical form we will require that you get it signed off by a physician.
* Cave Diver certification, or equivalent.
* This class requires that all student divers already possess perfect buoyancy skills.
* is required for all cave and technical courses.
* 50 minimum logged cave dives after completion of Cave certification.
* Prior experience with sidemount is a must.
* We also highly recommending that Sidemount Specialty Cave Divers, are trained in Decompression Procedures.
Standards for the Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver Course:
* Maximum depth for Cave Diver training dives will not exceed 130 feet/40 meters.
* All Cave Diver training dives will be started with at least 20 feet of visibility.
* Limited decompression
* Penetrations are limited to 1/3 of sidemount cylinders.
What you can do afterwards:
* Dive, dive, dive in MANY new (previously inaccessible) caves across the state of Florida, indeed anywhere!!!
* You will be a much safer, more competent and comfortable diver after completion of your Sidemount Specialty Cave Diver course.
* You can comfortably carry your cylinders down to the water one at a time, with minimal risk to your back.
* If you travel to exotic destinations, you are not limited by the availability of backmount doubles. So long as there are single cylinders available, you can cave dive!
* You can look up and very clearly see what is in front of you- without banging your head on a manifold.
* Shutdown drills and isolations will be much easier, you can see everything right there in front of you!
* Sidemount is perfect for getting into tight spaces (but there is nothing to say you have to!).
Dayo Scuba hosts, sponsors and maintains the worlds leading Cave & Cavern Diving Forum. For more information and resources about cave diving, check it out: