Sidemount Diving with Garry Dallas

Sidemount Diving Course - Deco Stop
Sidemount Diving Course – Deco Stop

Sidemount Diving with Garry Dallas  – It’s not debatable that most of the dive guides are so passionate about the nature, that they had located their work in it, around it. Specifically shaped to fit in it. We observe the majestic work and the fertile chaos that permeates this so different environment, astonished by the numbers, the colors and the playing of these creatures that so often people forget. Like from another world, not part of our everyday lives.

That’s our passion… guiding the interested people to see with their very eyes the grace and the frenzy of the animals in the wild oceans, the magnificent constructions that the meeting between rocks and water can create. Nicely and safe. And of course we love our job.

But what happen when you have worked in this field for 11 years and you’ve passed the 9000 thousand dives on your shoulders, between Portugal, South Africa, Mozambique and Thailand?

The good thing about being a scuba diver, nowadays, is that it’s almost impossible to stop learning and that there are a lot of small things related to scuba diving that can trigger our curiosity… we have an amount of possibilities, gears, techniques and different environments far to be fully seen or learned in 2 or 3 scuba divers lives.

And so, after lots of experiences, Ricardo, MV Giamani’s tour leader, was struggling to find someone special to teach him sidemount diving properly, different ways to be a diver: a sidemount diver and a tec diver.

Oversimplifying: the first about carrying the tank(s) attached to the side of your body from the armpit to the waist, instead of being strapped on the back… and the second about doing dives that involve decompression stops to de-saturate the high amount of nitrogen absorbed in our body tissues.

Having already tried both, in the past… he was aware about the difficulties of skipping some details and to not be correctly trained, understanding at full what every single skill and step of it, means. He was looking for someone at the top, in his field. Someone well known for his reputation and professionalism.

Garry Dallas came out of the bucket after a brainstorming of about one month, like the most suitable person for the job.

Sorting out the details was only a matter of time and the sidemount diving course was organized. The thrill, perceivable, in the salty air on the boat, when the booking and the dates were confirmed.

The day which they met, Ricardo took care of all his duties of tour leader of MV Giamani and then started a furious unstoppable chat with Garry, and his girlfriend and dive master: Samantha Raby. They started on the spot to plan the schedule of the next four days and to talk about a never ending series of details, adjustments, reasons behind choices, skills and manoeuvres.

Ricardo was curious, Garry was more than willing to talk about his experience and all the preparatory details of the RAID courses that soon he’ll had to teach him. They finished the conversation around 3 o’clock in the morning. Just to have at least a few hours of sleep before the first, official, course’s dive.

The next days were intense for the three of them, practicing in the water, briefing and debriefing outside… from the adjustments to the particular harnesses of the sidemount setup that needs to be done correctly and is based on the specifics of the body of the diver. And then also the setup of the regulators, first stages, hoses path, bungee cords… to all the skills needed to dive correctly and safely with this setup: safety drills, regulator switching, tank clipping and unclipping and adjustments of their positions, air sharing in case of emergency and so on. It’s a proper new way to dive. Definitely interesting and with an “enhanced safety concept” as cornerstone, having the possibility to take with you two, or more, independent breathing systems.

Almost every day they reached the crazy amount of 300 minutes underwater, practicing… having fun with it… but also enjoying the amazing scenarios offered by Similan and Surin National Parks’s dive sites.

Was not rare to see them surfacing with large smiles after having an encounter with eagle rays, leopard shark at uncommon depths (37 meters in Richelieu Rock), manta rays or simply making a “sandy bottom climbing race against the current”, digging with the hands in the sand and pulling themselves against a strong down-current, around 40 meters in Koh Tachai.

They finalized the trip doing also the OC Deco 40m/132 feet RAID Specialty, a tec course about diving with decompression stops to maximum 40 meters deep and with deco stops of maximum 10 minutes in air or nitrox. And playing around on the MV Seacharter wreck with our Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) too!

Diving is fun, never forget that!

During their usual recreational dives all the guests on board MV Giamani had enjoyed the mood and were curious about the setup, the stories and some special tricks that Garry taught us about sidemount diving.

And these three guys coming out of nowhere, perfectly trimmed, performing skills had often caught the attention of many divers, from every boat around, that just stared at them hypnotized. Sometimes even a little bit scared during the toughest emergency procedures practice which included no mask, free flowing Regulator and out of air situation all together.

But after completing their duties and received the amazed stares of the public they were back to their dive, like everybody else, looking at the spectacular marine life all around us.

The trip is finished. The courses have been completed. It was a great experience for everyone… a step further in our path about the passion of diving. Now many others will benefit of Ricardo’s new training and we hope to teach to lots of divers new skills and mindsets, glad to have always new challenges.

MV Giamani Technical Diving

Tech Diving Liveaboard MV Giamani

Tech Divers on Tec Diving Liveaboard MV Giamani
Tec Divers ready for diving

Tech Diving Liveaboard MV Giamani – During MV Giamani’s Similan Islands season our main focus is on recreational divers, simply because the majority of our customers are recreational divers. However we are very much willing and able to accommodate the needs of technical divers during these trips.

  • Rebreather SCR & CCR
  • Twin Set ups
  • Side mount

MV Giamani’s  dive deck was originally designed for 22 divers to have ample room. We take now a maximum of 12 (including dive staff) so there are acres of space for each diver, meaning that if you need a twin set and a drop tank or a re-breather unit and a bail-out tank there is plenty of room on the tank racks for you ad  your equipment. Our new wider rear platform gives you plenty of space to organise your Tech equipment for entry and makes it very easy, for our staff, to help you exit the water.

For those wishing to use re-breathers (CCR / SCR) we carry plenty of Oxygen on board (100% O2 fills available), normally used for Nitrox blending, and are more than happy to fill your tanks for you. We can also blend Nitrox to your desired mix, between 21% and 40%, if you want to use other blends please let us know and we can arrange to have a number of tanks on board pre-mixed to the required level.

Our boat crew are very experienced at working with technical divers as the boat spends five months every year running technical diving liveaboard trips out of Koh Tao for Tech Thailand. They understand how most of the tech equipment works and also understand the different procedures necessary when diving with technical equipment.

If you require any special equipment please let us know in advance and we can normally arrange to have it available for you to rent. We can also arrange for all the special materials you need such as sorb for a rebreather unit.

In the past years we hosted many groups of technical divers on our recreational trips, including those using twin sets, re-breathers and side-mount systems.

If you wish to join us just get in touch and let us know what you need and we will be happy to arrange your technical diving requirements.

More about Tech diving in Phuket, Thailand here…

MV Giamani Technical Diving

Technical Diving Trips in the Gulf of Thailand

USS Lagarto Deck Guns
USS Lagarto Deck Guns

The Gulf of Thailand was heavily patrolled by US subs and during 1945 they sank dozens of “Marus”, Japanese freighters & tankers carrying everything from simple supplies to POW’s (Prisoners of War). Plus there are plenty of other wrecks to explore.

MV Giamani offers every year from May – September Tech Diving Liveaboard trips to dive the most important wreck such as HMS Repulse, HMS POW, USS Lagarto, Shigure, Hatsutaka plus others…

Our trips are perfect for Tech Courses and to complete Open Water Divers needed to complete your certification. We offer IANTD & TDI CCR courses and all PADI Tec Rec courses. Special packages for course plus liveaboard trip are available on request.

From November to April MV Giamani is doing recreational diving trips in the Andaman Sea to Similan Islands, Surin, Richelieu Rock plus the southern islands. Tech Divers are welcome!

Questions? Like to get on board? Please Contact Us Now!

More about Technical Diving in Phuket Thailand here…

MV Giamani Technical Diving

Technical Diving in Phuket, Thailand

Tech Diving MV Giamani
Technical Diving on MV Giamani

Technical Diving – The phrase itself, may invoke thoughts of long dark caves, polar bear infested Ice diving, dark and haunted wreck diving or deep diving, so deep, in fact, you can actually see The Mariana Trench, first hand. Diving in any form is intimidating to the layman.

The hardest part of learning to dive is to go into the shop and ask about any particular course. The Dive industry has for years tried to make this progression easy for the beginner. Try as it may, the industry of diving, is still a little intimidating to break into.

Technical diving is becoming more and more popular and is nowhere near as difficult to get into, nor is it the elusive restricted field that it once was. You do not need to go to college and spend 10 thousand dollars on a course and work in the North Sea for the rest of your life to have a career in this business.

With more and more dive schools offering Technical Diving and Technical Instructors courses, it has never been so open before, though it can be a bit of a mine field. Of course, it is not everyone’s idea of fun. But it does have its appeal, and not only in the male dive environment, as women are getting well into the tech side of things too. Interested? more about Technical Diving courses.

Technical diving defined

Tech Divers on Tec Diving Liveaboard MV Giamani
Tec Divers ready for diving

Technical diving is the use of advanced and specialized equipment along with techniques that enable divers to access to depth, longer dive time, and unusual
underwater environments more safely than otherwise possible.’

Nitrox used to be considered technical diving, but with the widespread use of the mix now appearing on nearly all Liveaboards and most day boats, it is now considered more as a part of recreational diving than technical diving: unless mixed at 36% or greater.

Usually people try their first taste of tech diving using a re-breather, maybe in a local swimming pool as part of their scuba class, it is a great way of learning differing techniques to diving. Re-breathers offer different kind of operating systems with semi closed re-breathers and closed circuit re-breathers

Technical diving requires detailed training, specialized equipment before any certification. Training is offered by more and more dive shops each year, in choosing your instructor and the organisation.

It is advised that any decision on learning should be taken very seriously, and a
comprehensive check of credentials and experience of the instructor and agency should be thoroughly explored before signing up for any course.

World record

Phuket has a fantastic history for technical diving; a new world record was set in these waters not so long ago. English diver Mark Ellyatt, a true pioneer and legend amongst technical divers, along with his crack team of support divers, which included Tec Instructor Phil Phelan, David Hansen, Mike Stark, Glen Dunkley, Monton Bumpenyu (Khun Gai) and Sveinung Skoglund, broke the previous record set a few years earlier.

In 2005 Ellyatt set a world record of 313 meters beating the previous record by 5 meters for the deepest solo scuba dive ever, right here in the seas around Phuket. Ellyatt compared the successive world record attempt to being like ‘a lonely trip, like a trip to the moon.’

Very trippy indeed Mr Ellyatt; it surely takes considerable planning, courage, drive passion and a very active safety conscious attitude to make such a dangerous dive. Make no mistake; diving to these depths is risky, no matter how experienced you are.

Apparently it took only 12 minutes to get to the depth of 313 meters; he spent another minute collecting his thoughts and markers, and then a further 6 hours 36 minutes to make the journey back to the surface.

Ellyatt chose a relatively slow ascent rate at about 18 metres a minute, stopping at 250 meters; the next 4 stops were each 20 metres apart. He planned the dive thoroughly, taking into account gas mixtures, decompression stops, water temperatures and currents as well as physical and mental health; everything had to be prepared to the letter.

Ellyatt took six tanks down with him on the descent, during the rest of the dive, had a further 2 dozen more brought to him upon depths of ascent. Someone remarked since that Ellyatt used more tanks to go 313 meters than operation Desert Storm needed to liberate Kuwait.

Ellyatt said at the end of his dive that he was ‘exhausted, but very happy’ he had dived solo, deeper than anyone had before; he had surfaced without any additional help and without any decompression illness symptoms.

This sort of diving is extreme to say the least and these sorts of depths are not reached every day by just any one. Mark Ellyatt is a full time technical dive Instructor and has twenty years of experience teaching with thousands of dives in all waters around the world; many at depths greater than 200 meters.

Tech Diving in Phuket

Most technical divers at one point or another, are asked why they want to get into this technical stuff? One of the most common answers is to go beyond the limits of scuba diving. To get away from the cluster, the diver soup of some sites, which can be plagued by so many divers at popular resort areas around the world.

Another reason is to visits the rarely seen deeper ship wrecks that lie off the limits of the normal recreational diver radar. These wrecks tend to be in a better state than those frequently visited by the Scooby Doo crowd. Whatever your reasons may be and jokes aside, there is a serious side to diving and this should be in the back of every divers mind at all times.

There are several organizations operating tech courses here in Phuket the most popular technical courses are by

  • PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)
  • TDI (Technical Diving International)
  • SSI (Scuba Schools International)

Here in the Phuket area there are many excellent options for technical diving:

Some of the wrecks here are the famous King Cruiser (popular training ground) which sank in 1997 it can be reached by local boats in two hours from Phuket.

The Teak wreck is a fairly new wreck, sitting in 40 meters of water and just outside the port of Tablamu, situated near Khao Lak).

HMS Vestal, an old British Second World War ship sunk by the Japanese in the last days of the war and its sister ship HMS Squirrel. The marine life on these sites is spectacular, visibility depends upon local conditions, and both sites are world class technical sites.

There is also an abundance of cave diving, for example: in Khao Sok National Park have many caves to explore and train in.

Also the Sra Keaw Cave near Krabi, there are also caves near Trang(situated a little further south of Krabi). More and more caves are being found and explored each year.

There are even a few caves and caverns around the Islands of Phi Phi and Koh Haa.

There are deep water dive sites for the Tech diver to discover too. The waters off Racha Noi and Hin Muang and the famous Similan islands, all offer stunning dives and all reach depths of 60 meters plus.

They offer fantastic visibility and marine life, with large Trevally’s, Tuna’s and other Jacks plus some huge Barracuda. Also many large pelagic fish visits these sites frequently. Whale-sharks and manta rays are not uncommon here.

More about Tech Diving on board MV Giamani

Important Note: Attempting to perform Technical Diving without proper training and equipment will more than likely result in serious injury or death