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View Full Version : Just Fininished the NSS-CDS Sidemount class



in_cavediver
07-31-2008, 17:06
Just got back from 5 days in North Florida where we did a sidemount class. Even after 100+ dives in backmount (turned in my Abe Davis paperwork this trip as well), that first sidemount cave dive was something else. By the end though, we were somewhat competant in the technique. (still have lots to work on)

For a bit of background - I was cave certed in 2002, my wife in 2006. Together, we have logged 40-50 dives (I logged 50+ before she dove caves) and last fall tried Nomad's and Optima's. Seeing the cost advantage, we opted to get the nomads over the optimas.

Fast forward to last week. After having our timeframe move from March (flooding) to May to September then to August and finally to the last week in July, we could finally really play. For our class, Bill Rennaker and John Orlowski taught us. Excellent choices for *any* cave instruction.

So we begin and the lecture portion of cave conservation and gas management went quickly. Then on to gear configuration. We spent 2 hours working through our gear going from backmout to sidemount. Moving regs hoses, changing lenghts, setting up a butt mount for a can light, breaking a set of doubles down. (I just picked up another set of LP85's so I would have to deal with my 104s). The devil is in the details.

On to our first dive. We guessed at the weighting we would need and planned a simple penetration into Peacock 1. Figured to stick close to the cavern and work on gear issues. The very first thing we learned is that it can be a real pain the rear to even get the tanks on. That settled, we submerged and started to work on trim. We spent 30 minutes swimming through the cavern area (basin was shot due to algae) and kicked up practically no silt. My wife needed only a minor tank band move and she was set. Me, I found I was off balance and my tanks needed to move forward.

Dive 2 was aborted 10 minutes in due to a blown o-ring on my wifes inflator valve. Not really enough time to go.

After one very good nights sleep and massaging just a few sore muscles we were ready for dive 3.

This time, our dive plan was more specific. Enter Peacock 1, head down the pothole line and see where it went. We had corrected our gear and proceeded 1200' or so and turned on my sore foot. (sock pinch in my drysuit). On the exit, we got to practice underwater bottle removal. This dive was SO much better than my first dive of the class.

At this point, we had successfully completed the class without destroying the vis once. We also got to give a GUE cave 1 class something funny to look at as we attempted to adapt to the SM config. It was refreshing to notice that we could adapt the 'feel' of the optimal body postition and adapt our new gear to it almost automatically. Even with my unbalanced rig on the first dive, I looked mostly correct to our instructor as was able to manage anti-silting techniques thoughout. (big ego boost on that one)

We did one more dive down the Peanut line to around 1000' on our remaining gas before calling it a day. It was a great expierence and having a mentor to help with the initial pains of the gear config and tweaking was worth it. Between John and Bill, we cut some of the learning curve down to a manageable level. It was especially nice to have an expierenced eye look us over underwater as well. Great confidence builder and reference as we develop questions later.

All in all, a lot of fun and something new to master at our local quarry before heading back south to find some 'new to us' passages! Think we'll look funny to OW divers in sidemounts?

skdvr
07-31-2008, 17:13
Congrats on the course and thanks for the info... It was an interesting read...

Phil

tonka97
07-31-2008, 17:15
Great report!

Well written and informative.

Thank you.

TommyB
07-31-2008, 17:22
Just got back from 5 days in North Florida where we did a sidemount class. ...., Bill Rennaker and John Orlowski taught us. Excellent choices for *any* cave instruction.


Gratz on the class!!
Bill Rennaker is one heck of a person.
Cave Excursions (http://www.sidemount.com/index.php)
That's were we get our fills about once/twice a week. Fun to listen to some of his stories of the "old days"

Wait until ya want to SM off a boat-- Then ya get some really funny looks-

in_cavediver
07-31-2008, 18:59
Just got back from 5 days in North Florida where we did a sidemount class. ...., Bill Rennaker and John Orlowski taught us. Excellent choices for *any* cave instruction.


Gratz on the class!!
Bill Rennaker is one heck of a person.
Cave Excursions (http://www.sidemount.com/index.php)
That's were we get our fills about once/twice a week. Fun to listen to some of his stories of the "old days"

Wait until ya want to SM off a boat-- Then ya get some really funny looks-

Bill's great. The interesting things - we hail from the same part of the US. Before he moved to Florida - he lived about 30-35 miles from where we do. We know a lot of the same divers and know the same quarries etc.

caroln
07-31-2008, 20:35
Congrats on the class, and thanks for an interesting read. I did my cave class with John Orlowski and agree that he's a great instructor, and a good guy. I usually stay at Mr Rennakers trailers when I get down there--another good guy. Having seen video of a side mount dive he did in Convict Springs, I'd say you were in very good hands.

TommyB
07-31-2008, 22:36
Forgot to add ---
Where's the pics of you in your new SM setup--
and yea, your going to get some "big-eyed" looks for the OW crew --

and PS-
Caroln,
you still coming down end of august??
4 boyz from scubatoys will be here the 27th to do cave class.
3 are in class the other one is just coming to dive with TJ and crazy crew -:)
Hope your wrist is doing better ---

caroln
08-01-2008, 15:04
Forgot to add ---


and PS-
Caroln,
you still coming down end of august??
4 boyz from scubatoys will be here the 27th to do cave class.
3 are in class the other one is just coming to dive with TJ and crazy crew -:)
Hope your wrist is doing better ---

I am still supposed to come down from the 28th-Sept 1st. My bionic arm seems to be ok, but I'll have to do some serious work in PT if I'm going to be able to turn my valves by then. As of now I still can't open a coke. I can reach my left post with my right hand, but it isn't exactly proper procedure.

divepapi
08-02-2008, 18:04
Forgot to add ---
Where's the pics of you in your new SM setup--
and yea, your going to get some "big-eyed" looks for the OW crew --

and PS-
Caroln,
you still coming down end of august??
4 boyz from scubatoys will be here the 27th to do cave class.
3 are in class the other one is just coming to dive with TJ and crazy crew -:)
Hope your wrist is doing better ---


I'm the one diving with the crazy crew... Patrick and Kevin going to get their Intro Cave...

TommyB
08-02-2008, 23:42
Hey ya Hector!!

Was wondering what your handle was on here DivePapi