February 14th, 2011
I can’t believe how far sidemount diving has come. I was the first sidemount instructor in the USA starting back in the mid 80’s. I developed the sidemount program for the NSS-CDS and started teaching the craft to Florida cave divers.
What people learn today about sidemount diving was termed Florida-style sidemounting back then. The British had been sidemounting for years and brought their rigs over. The rigs were designed to go thru sumps (the water filled portion of the dry cave) but provided no trim, Florida cave divers were all about technique and trim so we developed the rigs for the style of sidemount diving that has become all the craze.
In the 80′s sidemount had become popular with a small group of North Florida cave divers, my dear friend Wes Skiles was the leader of the group. Outside Magazine called us “The Moles of Florida”. I never thought it would become so popular and with new sidemount celebrities appearing on the dive scene, most are former students or even students of students.
I still enjoy going into small caves (not as small as I use to) where I test the wear and tear on the Nomad. Rock Bluff used to require a shovel for us to enter. It is still a favorite and the opening gets smaller or maybe it’s the few pounds I have put on. Look for more innovations coming on the Nomad this spring.