Teaser Pics: ANDI Advanced Sidemount Course

I am currently editing videos and preparing a course report for the A.N.D.I Advanced Sidemount course, that finished today in Subic Bay.  The course was taught by Bruce Konefe (ANDI I.T.D #15). Here are some photos, captured from the video footage:

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The A,N.D.I. Advanced Sidemount course is focused towards high-level overhead environment penetration skills particular to sidemount configuration.  The course includes detailed instruction on the use of multiple stages for extended penetrations and ‘small hole’ diving techniques (wriggling through the rock or metal).

Advanced-Sidemount-Course Restrictions

Inverted (mask flooded) progression through very tight spaces – pushing one cylinder and trailing others from the crotch or ankle… whilst air-sharing.

The Advanced Sidemount course consists of six dives that encompass a wide spectrum of higher-level skills unique to the overhead environment.  Most of the dives include actual decompression, along with multi-stage team penetrations into wreck or cave environments (depending on the course location).

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Pushing and trailing multiple cylinders through very small restrictions is a feature on several of the course dives. This is not for those with claustrophobia!

The course is suitable for existing qualified technical divers, who have further qualified for overhead environment diving;  Technical Wreck or Cave.  The ability to properly lay guideline, conduct overhead emergency skills and possession of considerable competence in sidemount configuration equipment is expected on enrollment.

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Course dives involve primary sidemount cylinders and multiple stages. Real decompression is conducted, due to extensive penetration done on the course.

Even experienced cave/wreck divers will find the ‘small hole’ restriction passage particularly challenging.  Instruction begins with the correct ‘wriggle and drive’ techniques… and then tested in a variety of scenarios. The ‘restriction’ we practiced with was only 30cm high, one meter wide and three meters long.   These scenarios include:

  • Sidemount tanks attached
  • One tank pushed forwards, one trailed from crotch or ankle (using a bungee ‘anklet’)
  • Inverted (facing upwards) with mask flooded/removed, tanks attached, pushed and dragged.
  • Air-sharing, inverted (mask flooded/removed) with both divers pushing/dragging tanks
  • All scenarios tested going forwards, then reversing back out
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Inverted (mask flooded) restriction passage, pushing one cylinder and dragging a second (ankle leash). Done both forwards and then reverse back through.

Attempting these very small restrictions takes considerable confidence and stress management.  If any part of your equipment can snag, then it certainly will.  You have to resolve problems, keep cool and slowly wriggle through.

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Air-sharing with the long hose, whilst negotiating a 30cm high restriction – one cylinder pushed, one dragged behind. Good communication and some considerable patience are absolutely required.

The course is quite physically challenging, so be in decent fitness before you plan to enroll on it!

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This is not a course for those who wish to keep their equipment clean and pristine. Razor 2.0 sidemount looking distinctly ‘wreck diver worn’.

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Emerging from a small hole in the hull of the Landing Craft Utility wreck. The full performance of sidemount rigs is put to the test in these dives.

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Turn-point on one of the multi-stage wreck penetration dives. 4x Al80 were used on most dives. This dive had a run-time of 77 minutes.

The use of stage diving techniques is another focus during the course.  This training includes various approaches towards stowing, configuring and utilizing extra cylinders for the bottom portion of the dive – an essential tool for those who conduct significant penetrations.  Varied options for staging and retrieving cylinders were taught.  The course is not about “this is the only way to do it”, but rather; encourages analysis of alternative approaches.

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The course demands high competence in guideline skills and decompression protocols, before it starts.

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Cyril emerges from a small hole in the shipwreck hull

The need for precision dive planning was also reinforced throughout the course – with the full team planning using gas-matching techniques and accounting for multiple staging and turn-points over an extended bottom time in overhead environment conditions.

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Methods of progression beyond extremely restricted areas.

No-mount diving techniques are covered, along with alternative techniques such as wearing back-mounted doubles over the top of sidemount configuration – allowing the doubles to be used as ‘transport gas’ down to the first major restriction before being staged.

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Bruce Konefe, A.N.D.I Instructor Training Director #15

Task loading and stress management are inevitable features during the course.  This training will certainly improve your comfort zone when conducting penetrations and dealing with uncomfortable situations in the water.

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Andy Davis, emerges from a small compartment inside a wreck – the exit is just 60cm x 30cm

For more details about taking this course for yourself, please CONTACT ME.

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