By Lisa Russell
Who wouldn’t want to spend more time underwater?
There’s not much worse then being on an extraordinary dive and having to cut it short due to getting low on air. Most divers I speak to always wish they could be under the water longer. With side mount diving this is now possible for all recreational divers!!! Just like most instructors I really value my ‘pleasure’ dives on my days off, and over the last few months I’ve had some of the best dive experiences made only possible because of side mount.
My favourite dive site in Sydney is Magic Point in Maroubra, home to many Grey Nurse Sharks. My first dive here I didn’t quite know what I was in for, just doing a single tank dive, I found myself all geared up and facing a 25minute walk over a hill and climbing over rocks to get to the entry point. After a quick rest we then faced a testing entry, which needed to be timed perfectly so we didn’t get knocked off the rocks by the swell. The dive itself was pretty awesome, we spent 20minutes with the grey nurses, a blue devil fish and a couple of cuttlefish before starting the 40minute swim back to Maroubra beach, hopefully having enough air to make the trip under water. To say the least I was exhausted after getting out and also felt I’d missed so much cool stuff on the swim back as we were so time pressured.
After completing my Side mount Course with Jamie at Abyss Scuba Diving I returned to Maroubra for round two. Carrying twice the amount of air meant a 30 metre stroll across the beach to a nice easy entry in the shallows. After next to no surface swim we were underneath and cruising out towards the grey nurses. Not being time pressured made it so much more enjoyable, this dive we found 15 large Port Jackson’s in one crack in the reef, up to a dozen Wobbegongs, countless cuttlefish, massive schools of yellow tail and old wives and this is before spending over an hour with up to 20 Grey nurses cruising under their reef. Such magnificent creatures to be in the presence of and Jamie and I had them all to ourselves it was truly extraordinary. By this stage we had spent an hour and a half under the water and as we turned to swim back to the beach having over 150 bar left made it a relaxed swim back, with even more great encounters including a huge school of Kingfish. Definitely one of the best dives I’ve done!
The Side mount Course I completed included a background theory session, equipment knowledge and set up, and four dives, the first three including many skills, and the fourth my first long dive adventure. This was out at Voo Doo off Kurnell National Park. After nearly three hours underwater I still didn’t want to come up, however it was still a lot more satisfying than any single tank dive could have been. This course was really enjoyable and has opened up even more dive opportunities for myself, of which you can never have too many!
Since becoming a side mount diver, it’s now become routine to be planning my days off around the next side mount expedition! With the ability to spend more time underwater, I have covered many new areas not commonly dived. Some of these have been down in Shell Harbour, many areas around Kurnell national park, circumnavigating the deeper reef the whole way around Bare Island, and of course regular trips back to the Grey Nurses at Magic Point! I prefer to dive side mount all the time as it is so comfortable as the tanks drift along beside you and are barely noticeable and there’s no weight on your back. The reassurance of always having that extra air is beneficial, you never know what you mite find that will take up extra time!!!
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