“I dive to help others enjoy a world …very different to the one they are currently living in”
Want to know what my in-water courses are like ? …these customers testimonials should cover it
A Sidemount Story… My name is Patrick. I live and Seattle, Washington USA and dive in the cold water of Puget Sound. In January 2015, I met my dive partner Don on a trip to Cozumel. On the last diving day of our vacation, we signed up for the Chac Mool cenote. Our guide dove sidemount and had a cave diver’s exacting trim and buoyance. It was the first time that either Don or I had ever seen someone dive sidemount or be so precise in the water. There and then we decided that we wanted to learn how to dive sidemount, and we wanted to become cave divers.
Our first problem was where to begin. In all my Puget Sound diving, I had seen exactly one person in sidemount gear, and he was from out of town. I searched the internet and found Steve Martin’s website: sidemounting.com, which led me to his Sidemount Essentials video series.
There is nothing like Steve’s videos—anywhere. I know because I looked. Steve’s videos are comprehensive and explain each detail, trick, and technique needed to successfully set up and dive sidemount. I later learned that Steve spent untold hours experimenting with alternative configurations—so there is a reason and purpose for everything that he demonstrates on the videos.
Don and I followed videos #1-4 to configure our regulators, tanks, and X-Deep harnesses. I don’t know how we would have done it without Steve’s videos—they saved us hours of trial-and-error. Next, we watched Steve’s underwater skills video. We learned donning and doffing, regulator switches, tank removal, finning techniques, and a variety of emergency skills including emergency air sharing/deploying the long hose, valve shutdown, and handling a stuck inflator.
By this time it was July, and Don said “what about taking a cave course from Steve?” After a quick email exchange, we learned that Steve would be in Mexico in January 2016, so we booked our course. When we arrived, Steve asked about our sidemount experience: I told him that we had been trained by wolves….because we were essentially self-taught using his videos. I was very happy to find that the video instruction had given us a sound foundation for the advanced techniques that were part of Steve’s cave diving course.
So what was it like to be trained by Steve? It was an amazing experience, and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend. If you ever have the opportunity to take a course from Steve, don’t hesitate and consider yourself very lucky. First, Steve demands excellence, particularly in himself. He is incredibly knowledgeable and an amazing diver. He will challenge you to become better. Second, Steve is very generous and giving of his time. If you want to learn, he will teach you. Finally, Steve has a great sense of humor that made the course fun. I can honestly say that Steve is far-and away the best instructor I have ever had. I know that Don feels the same way.
So, over the course of a year, I went from not even knowing what sidemount diving was to becoming a full cave-certified, sidemount diver. It is no exaggeration to say that I owe that all to Steve. Through his videos and personal instruction, he changed the way that I dive and made me better than I ever thought possible. For that, Steve will always have my respect and my gratitude.
To see pictures of Patrick’s and Don’s cave training view photo album (below left) and to see pictures from the special guided cave dive they got to do once the cave training was over in cenote Doggi, choose (below right).
I had the opportunity to train with Steve Martin on his now legendary side mount essentials course a numbers of years ago, this was after I received a personal recommendation from a friend who had spent time researching the best instructors in this field – my friend assured me to spend my money wisely and this would be wise money spent – and honestly hand on heart it was some of the best instruction I have ever received and most definitely money wisely spent. It gave me the necessary skills set, awareness and the knowledge to be a confident, competent and safe diver using a side mount configuration.
For those of you who have never personally met Steve, the first thing to strike me was shear focus and determination (he is going to make you into the best side mount diver you can be -whether you like it or not), his in-depth and proven and extensive knowledge base, his pure passion and commitment to developing side mount diving into a dynamic configuration to challenge and surpass other long recognised diving configuration systems in open water and technical environments is abundantly clear.
I was one of a fortunate few to be given the opportunity to have a sneak preview of the course material in Steve Martins new 5 Video training series, it is a very ambitious project – covering all the same material and topics in Steve’s Martins side mount essentials 4 day practical course – obviously minus the vital real instructor interaction and detailed personal feedback gained during the actual course dives.
So what will you be getting for your hard earned cash by purchasing access to these videos??? Basically you are getting from an internationally recognised leader in the field of side mount, gained over 6 years and 1000’s of hours of side mount experience – the minute and invaluable practical details and knowledge – and I have to emphasize the word “practical”, the information contained in these video is not wishy washy waffle it is clear, concise, practical hands on steps and essential instructions to turn a mediocre side mount setup and skills set into near polished “perfection” – to try and develop these skills on a trial and error basis would take the average diver years of committed practice – with the added disappointment and frustration that this approach naturally entails.
Steve’s 5 videos essential training series provide a direct gateway to this wealth of side mount diving experience from a world leading and dedicated side mount instructor that will help bring you and your side mount diving knowledge and skill-set a step closer to the top level.
Essential viewing for anyone interested or trained in side mount diving at any level of certification from open water to advanced technical or cave!!! Money wisely spent ! P.S. Steve I think your bordering on insanity putting this information on- line 😀 – hope it all works out!!!
I’ve dived all over the world and switch constantly between single tank to backmount twins to rebreathers and to sidemount but sidemount is definitely what feels most free in terms of movement and balance in the water.
I use sidemount configurations both in open water but also in cave diving where it has become the only option in some locations.
Steve’s videos is right for anyone who wants to pursue sidemount diving, be it recreational, technical or cave. He takes the time to step by step walk you through how his equipment is set up and how this relates to actual diving circumstances.
He does this with examples from both warm water diving in a wetsuit and from colder dry suit diving.
In his videos his experience comes across and that is something extremely important when it comes to all instructors. If you want to learn sidemount diving, it has to be from someone who actually does it all the time.
Watching a video can never replace getting actual hands on training with an experienced instructor but these lessons will certainly help you get on the right path and give you the tools you need to start the learning process.
– Oscar Svensson, Explore the Silence, 2012 European Rolex Scholar, Dive Instructor & Technical Diver
Been diving side mount for the last two years and had all these problems not knowing how to solve them until me and my friend took a cave course with Steve in Mexico.
After watching his 5 online sidemount training movies and knowing what I’ve been doing wrong for the past dives I was amazingly surprised how every single detail is explained and covered that I didn’t take into consideration.
These details that some people look at as no need to know basis are what actually make you stand in water and manage the system you’re diving, like a small example of measuring the length of your torso to know how high to place the hose clamp.
Every side mount diver should start at this theory step before entering the water because he won’t know what I’m talking about and the degree of comfort until he tries a system prior knowing how to place every piece of equipment big as a bottle or small as an o-ring placed under a cable tie of your bolt snap. Nevertheless, this does not substitute the presence of an in water instructor for skills, the movies are complementary to training.
Job well done Steve, I definitely recommend your video series to my students and of course keep us posted with everything new you do!! ..by the way I made me a dolphin necklace with your safety cord knot demo from video 1 🙂
Click either picture below and see Carole’s photo album of when she did her cave training course with me in Mexico
Day 1, Topics for the day: Weight and Trim Check, Cylinder DOFF & DON, analyzing kick and buoyancy skills. Conclusion: OMG .. these guys will need a transformation. Ok we tried our very best but at the end it was quite demotivating for us to see that after spending hundreds of Euros for dive courses (recommended by our Instructor) we are not able even to do the basic stuff. Result of the day: (words by Steve) Don´t worry guys. It will be hard work for you but I will fix this.
Day 2, Topics for the day: Finning techniques, Swim around the reel with different kick types, DON and DOFF under water, Hold position and helicopter turn. Today we had a dry lesson for finning techniques. The DON and DOFF was better than yesterday but doing this underwater was a new skill. We had to hold the depth with a reference reel line on 6m, hold position, DON and DOFF one cylinder. It looks quite easy when the instructor does it but to do it underwater, in the same sequence, without changing the depth, holding reference with the line and breathing. Ahhhhhhh help.
After some time we got more and more comfortable with the whole setup and also the skills got better and not so chaotic like at the very beginning. After 2hours and 20min we came out of the water and OMG… this was the longest dive ever. 😀 Result of the day: (words by Steve) Welcome to the world of real diving. Chill diving was yesterday.
Day 3, Topics for the day: Gozo Inland Sea + Blue hole, More skills, helicopter turn in the tunnel, First time with the new hand signs (yes we used two hands before ) Conclusion: Some Germans have a problem with this and always the Thump up 😀
Wow this dive was amazing. We had to repeat the skills at the very beginning and still some trouble with “Steve calls it discipline“ but every day we feel more comfortable with this. Before we started the dive we were really afraid of Steve’s “free flow attack” during the dive. But really, this was not stress for us during the dive. We learned what to do and how to identify the correct regulator and stage.
Yes we already had a huge learning effect. And this was cool for us. After 3 days with Steve we already felt like new divers. Result of the dive: (words by Steve) Guys you are doing well but you need more discipline. I don´t want to see this anymore. So we will fill up your cylinders and you go back to the water… Ahmm…YES SIR ,… OK SIR … We got detention!!
So we had to go back to the water and work on our discipline. We had a 1,5 hours dive again and worked hard on our buoyancy, trim and also finning techniques. We made our own movies with a Go-Pro and analyzed again our mistakes we did in order to correct this the upcoming day again to become a disciplined diver. After our dive we gave Steve a new name: From now on we will call him Drill-Instructor 😀 Result of the day: Steve we are hungry!! Burger Time.
Day 4, Topics for the day: Karwela wreck in Gozo, back kick and skills, first time on a big wreck. This dive was not Marcos dive… he had trouble with the bungees of his computer, compass, nearly everything was moving on his arm.. He went crazy. This dive was an amazing dive for us because we spent the first time in our live nearly 1h on a wreck. It was even impossible for us to think about a dive like this with our 15L steel bottle on the back. What did I say? On the back… ??? OMG….
On the way back we decided to do some more skills like regulator sharing, cylinder DON and DOFF (this works now without any problem) and some new stuff. Yes we started with the back kick. HA HA We can tell you. This is not easy… at the very beginning it feels like a cramp in your ass and leg. But only if you perform it wrong. Thanks to Steve’s Go-Pro we could see on the video during review session that our technique was wrong.
At the end Steve had to go out.. Yes he ran out of air… he had 10bar left and 10bar right. Why?? … we don’t know 😀 hahahahah. Result of the day: Worst day for Marco, cramp in the ass and our instructor ran out of air 😀
Day 5, Topics for the day: Hondoq bay Gozo, First time with a Stage, SMB and blind diving. The night before we spent hours and hours with the famous Video No5 in order to be prepared for the day 5. We also practiced the technical hand signs. Steve was happy to see us working hard and taking the topics serious.
Today we dived the first time with a 3rd cylinder. Our deco stage was located on the left side and yes baby now we felt like real technical divers 😀 We went to a shallow place where we learned and performed new skills. DONing and DOFFing of the deco stage, deco stage preparation and the final gas change. At the end Steve covered our eyes and we had to repeat the same steps. It looked quite funny on the video later but we really had another learn effect. After this new experience we shot our SMB to the surface and swam back to the entry point.
Result of the day: We had a lot of fun today and finally we feel like technical divers Wow effect: Learn the skills with covered eyes and you will be able to repeat this in any conditions. This was a new experience for us.
Day 6, Topics for the day: First deco simulation dive, long time in the training room, complicated theory stuff to learn, sac test. After spending half day in the training room and preparing our dive plan including backup plan we went to the same dive place like Day 4. We jumped into the water, did the s-Drill and Bubbles check and our Dive plan began. On 25m we started with our first Sac test. After ascend to the next depth we did another sac test. At the end we collected enough sac values to calculate our sac rate that will be needed for our first deco dive.
During the day we did 2 dives. Each of us had to take over the leading part (communication, control of depth, starting and ending sac test, controlling the ascend, etc). Oh yes it sounds easy but we can tell you it is not so easy if you do it for the first time. Actually we felt that we did a lot of mistakes and we really had not control of the dive at all.
Question after the dives: Who had this stupid idea to do a tec course? Back in the training room Steve told us that we did a great work and it was just a feeling that we didn´t react right. He also showed us on the videos that we actually did really good. So our demotivation disappeared immediately after the good news.
Result of the day: Instructor was happy. Patrick said: “Nooo nooo I cannot do this… Technical diving is not for me. This does not work”. But at the end he was convinced that everything is possible with a little bit of self-confidence and a good instructor on your side. Marco was confused and needed a night to digest the new experience 😀
Day 7, Topics for the day: Karwela again 😉 , First deco dive (so nervous). Oh yes baby… Today is the day. We are doing our first deco dive. The planned location is the already visited wreck “Karwela” in Gozo. After having our special Buoyancy Sandwich we drove to the dive side and prepared our gears.
After a short talk to the divers (most of them were boring backmounters ) hahaha …. we found out that there is some current, so we decided to adjust the coordinates a little bit. In the water we did our S-Drill and bubble check. “Karwela” baby we are coming 😀
After a 10min swim we arrived to a wreck. In the first minute we didn´t realize that this was not the Karwela wreck 😀 hahaha we arrived at “Cominoland”.. this wreck is close to “Karwela” but more on the left side. OK wreck is wreck..we were so happy to be there that we decided to adapt our dive plan to this wreck. Also “Cominoland” is a nice place to do a deco dive.
After a long dive with decompression stop we came out of the water and we just started shouting… “YES BABYYYYY WE DID IT… SO AWESOME”…. Oh wow yes it was so awesome.. Incredible feeling. On the way back, in Steve’s car, we couldn´t stop laughing about the wrong wreck 😀 Result of the day: Backmounting is boring and we definitely need more deco dives with Steve 😀
Day 8, Topics for the day: Drive to Malta, First dive to the Faroud, 2nd dive: Meet the regulator of death. Um el Faroud Wow… I think we never saw a wreck like this. It´s deep, it´s big and it´s a beauty of a wreck. We spent more than 1hour down there, diving into a lot of rooms, rising up the stairs, using small doors to enter deeper into the wreck. We felt like explorers…. actually we felt like real tech divers. This was our best dive ever and on top of this it was Patrick’s dive No. 100.
The regulator of death First of all Steve introduced Mr. Regulator of death to us. He is quite famous, I mean the regulator :D. So it was really a surprise for us that we finally were allowed to meet him. You have to know that he is a little bit shy. The good thing of the RoD is that he does not need revisions. He is handsome and he has a lot of special functions like: free flow guarantee, sporadic hose loosing, mouthpiece drop off and some more cool gadgets.
So after the coolest dive ever to the “Faroud” we had even more fun with the “Reg of Death” and some more skills that Steve showed us at the end. Result of the day: Incredible dive to the “Faroud” and a lot of fun during our last dive and the way back home.
Important things to survive a course with Steve: Buoyancy Popcorn: Important before and after the dive Big daddy and The Professor: This burger is a must if you are having a course in Gozo Self-motivation: Are you ready? I was born ready… Sandwich: If the fillings are thicker than the bread, then the bread can be as thick as it wants to be 😀 GoPro meets beer: Yummy 😀
Summary of the 8 days: Unbelievable, No words for this. This was not a course… this was a transformation. 8 days of in water training, 52,7Gb videos, 20KG of meet, beer and wine. Thanks Steve for being the drill instructor. The way how you teach, show and explain is exactly what people like us need. The time with you was crazy, awesome and funny. We will never forget this. Thanks
Thanks to Matteo, for sharing your knowledge with us. You gave us our daily motivation and helped us a lot during our daily challenges. Let´s meet in Italy next year 😀 …Patrick & Marco
Click either picture below to see the guys full course photo album
We saw a documentary on the Yucatan cenotes (add that to the bucket list!), and then at a chance meeting in Chuuk Lagoon with our friend Ken Norman, he said something like: “cave diving with Steve Martin, using Stealth side mount BCs, in Mexico this December” Yes … of course, it was just meant to be!
Months before Mexico we were already talking to Steve on Skype as he helped us plan our trip. Even then we began to wonder, how can this guy do all that training and still find time to help us prepare?
Finally Mexico – jet lag recovery with Mayan pyramids and diving Cozumel (because it’s there). My courses were “introduction to cave” and the “full cave upgrade”, but as Karen and I quickly found out Steve’s courses are about much more than the minimum needed for an agency qualification that so many others train too.
It was side mount diving – the right gear, right configuration, and its full benefits from our first dive – the trim, balance and streamlining made an immediate difference.
Having 600+ dives in the last four years it was also, surprisingly, about skills that I’d taken for granted, and stepping them up a level. On top of all of that, there was the actual cave training we’d come for!
For me it was intense, two courses in eight days. Excellent instruction, always progressing, concise and accurate advice just when I needed it, and Steve’s patience and persistence when it wasn’t quite coming together.
With many new skills to master it was fast paced but exciting to be learning something new everyday – running lines, new signals and team skills, lost line, lost buddy, sliding and rotating through restrictions, and then doing most of it again blindfolded – the black-out mask is my friend!
By the end I was amazed at just how much I’d learned in such a short period – thanks Steve!
The caves themselves; they started as “interesting” and became more and more amazing, but words cannot really describe what it is like to go swimming through these stunning creations of nature. Training done, it would have been great to see more. One fun day at the end, diving the Pit, just wasn’t enough.
Back in Australia, I’m missing the cenotes and fajitas, there’s not a decent cave for hundreds of kilometers.
Even so, Karen and I now have our own Stealth 2.0’s, set up how we learned in Mexico, and our new style of diving, thanks to Steve.
A final recommendation: If any ‘coincidence’ makes you think “I should learn about side mount or cave diving with Steve Martin” then don’t wait for another four or five ‘coincidences’, just go and do it.
Click either picture below and see Dave’s photo album of when he did his cave training course with me in Mexico
We were keen from then on to learn more about sidemount so immediately started following his posts on Facebook and the internet.
Fast forward to 2013, Dave and I were invited to go to Mexico with our friend Ken who had also become interested in what Steve was doing. Since Steve is the pretty much known as the best in the world at sidemount training and now cave training, we jumped at the chance.
After a few skype calls and loads of e-mail exchanges we booked a flight from Sydney via San Francisco, Houston and Cancun to get to the Riveria Maya. what a beautiful place – and a long way from home! Right from the beginning, we were greeted with Steve’s infectious joy for what he does. This made sometimes challenging situations (for me) a lot easier.
Training started 5 days after we arrived (after some sightseeing) – gear fitted and sidemount / cave training began. It is a steep learning curve but really worth the effort. As always Steve made the training fun and interesting. Nothing was too much trouble. But then came the caves.
As it turned out, I was not as prepared for the caves as I had expected. My back / neck injury made long swims and head turning challenging as did the psychological challenges of the caves. I just didn’t manage finish my cave course, but that is certainly no reflection on Steve or our training – he did everything he could to gave me every chance to succeed.
And although it wasn’t meant to be, it didn’t matter, my sidemount skills were honed by Steve separately to the cave course and we did lovely cavern dives. We also did ‘The Pit’ which was awesome. I saw beautiful caves and did amazing things – more than I could have ever imagined I was capable of only a few years ago because of my injuries, so I was very happy.
Throughout all of the 7 days spent with Steve we had a really great time and met wonderful people. I have fantastic memories of my time in Mexico and I would encourage everyone to give cave diving a go and get Steve to teach you! Karen Rochester
Click either picture below and see Karen’s photo album of when she did her cavern training course with me in Mexico
Getting Steve on the case was easy. Couple of quick emails and Skype calls and there I was two days later, sitting in the front of my computer, credit card in my hand, big smile on my face and booking flights to Mexico…
I was very fortunate to be on Steve’s courses before so kind of knew how Steve operates and what to expect. The biggest surprise was the caves themselves. I will never forget turning up at Grand Cenote the first day. My jaw just dropped and I was just standing there staring at the opening, the crystal clear water, the trees, the turtles…. simply stunning. Not a bad prospect for the 11 days that laid ahead of me all.
From there on the time just flew by. The training itself was very intense. From the word go you are gradually introduced to all the essential cave diving skills and you keep practicing them at every opportunity throughout the course. How to follow a line when you can see it, how you follow one when you can’t see it or how you find one if you don’t know where it is. All this is spiced up with the occasional out-of-air or free-flowing regulator. All designed to make you well prepared for surviving in what is a very beautiful but unforgiving environment.
There was a good balance between the theory, drills on dry land and in-water. Later came the reel work, complex navigation and the dives got longer. All this is carefully GoPro-ed so you do get plenty of feedback to help you along the way. I was very happy and felt really proud of myself when I finished the Full Cave course…. but that wasn’t the end.
I spent next 2 days with Steve on guided dives and true to be told they were by far the best dives I have ever done. Caterpillar, Holy-Sheet tunnel and Doggi are truly special caves. Not sure how but Steve also managed to pass me onto Mauro Bordignon for my last day which was yet again something very special. All in all this was fantastic training and unforgettable trip, one that will be hard to top. Thanks Steve!
For pictures of Sasha during his full cave training click picture (on left) to see Sasha’s “special” guided cave dives click picture (on right)
Pretty strange stuff for somebody liking to have the bottles neatly stocked on one’s back. But I was curious and kinda liked the freedom of movement, you just don’t have while wearing doubles on your back. So I booked 8 days sidemount essential and TDI Helitrox course with Steve in Gozo.
Not only is Steve a very handsome guy 😉 he is an amazing diver and most of all a passionate teacher, very dedicated to his job. He is bringing out the best of you, period. I was also very fortunate to have Yohan as my buddy, so when Steve asked us after two hours skill dive if we wanna continue, we just laughed at the silly question. Of course we wanted to!
Gozo is beautiful place to spend your vacation, especially if you like wreck diving as well. Steve is a wiz using his GoPro camera, it goes with the course – he will give you a lifetime of memories and you can always review the skills and configuration used by watching the videos and pictures!
All I want to say: I am looking forward to meet Steve in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and continue my technical diving education using sidemount. BTW I recognised the importance of using the visual aid and I will use the GO pro camera while I teach advanced diving courses of my own.
Hey Yohan, my buddy, thank you for the good time spent under and above the water. And yeah, big thanks to my teacher Steve, hasta pronto in Playa!
Click either picture below to see Jana’s full course photo album
Even if the certification was the PADI sidemount certification the content of the course was 90% different from the original PADI course. Patrick taught me a “good” sidemount diving way. That is him who talked me about Steve and told me that I should go sidemount diving with Steve. So before I started the course with Steve I can tell that I had pretty good basics. Let’s talk now about Steve…
As most of you know in scuba diving the most important is not the course you do but the instructor you learn with. And what I can say is that Steve is an awesome instructor, an incredible teacher and a very nice guy! He had a lot of experience in Sidemount and technical diving so he knows what he is doing and he knows how to teach it!
You will learn a lot with him and you will have a lot of fun which is very important to me. This is a sidemount course but what you will learn with Steve is not only sidemount diving. You will become a completely new diver with better underwater skills, better understanding of diving and team work. You will be able to face all kinds of emergencies and underwater situations. You will be a safer and better diver.
The course I did was sidemount essentials + adv nitrox + decompression procedure. It was a six days course. We were two students with Steve, Jana and me. Maybe some of you are thinking it will be better to be the only diver with Steve but actually this is not true. Be two or three students is the best way to learn, due to team work, helping each other with navigation and dive plan skills. Jana was a very nice buddy! We had a lot of fun and I really appreciate diving with her. Thank you Jana Mazura.
Steve chosen carefully the dive sites each day based on what we needed to learn and every dive was very very enjoyable. I really appreciate the video feedback we had every day. It was my first experience with video feedback and I can say this is defiantly the best way to learn fast and to correct your errors quickly. When I will become an instructor I am sure I will use video feedback with my students.
Steve downloaded all our movies onto my hard disk, it is great to have this as I can refresh the skills we learn together. To keep a high skill level I know I still need to practice a lot in the water, as Steve says “practice makes permanent”. I did my course in August and this last month I realized why my course with Steve was important to me. I did only a few sidemount dives in October and that felt almost perfect I really had the feeling that I was sidemount diving “good”.
All the skills I learned with Steve were intact. I remembered all the details and I was able to really enjoy new experience of diving. Sidemount diving is awesome. The feeling you have in the water is not comparable with backmount. You have perfect weight just as Steve teaches you and you really feel free & relaxed. I can now enjoy much more my diving than I was able to before my course with Steve.
So yes sidemount is awesome but only if you learn with a good instructor. And Steve is the best! This is after the course when you dive with other sidemount divers or backmount divers that you realize how good you are and how important your training was. I want to add a few words on the price of learning diving with Steve. It seems at first a little expensive but trust me it is not. Not at all!!
The quality of the course is incredible and if you do like me sidemount course plus technical course you will see it is cheaper than doing the same course in an other shop. In conclusion I had the best experience yet with Steve and I will learn cave diving with him for sure especially now he is in Mexico! I hope reading my testimonial will help you to make the good decision. If you like diving just go on and do a course with Steve Martin! You will not be disappointed. That is all I can say!!
Dive safe and enjoy! Thank you again Steve. Click either picture below to see Yohan’s full course photo album
Nobody around me had experience with the Sidemount techniques and could teach me so I spent many evenings reading in the internet to find a good teacher. I have to admit that I did not like the style of some of the (self-declared) Sidemounting gurus that I found until I started to read on Stephen Martin’s website. This was it!
Same day I wrote an e-mail to him and got a reply already the next day and the same afternoon we were already talking on SKYPE to each other. I liked what I heard and saw and decided to go to Gozo / Malta and to book a Sidemounting Essential and a Sidemounting Multi Stage course with Steve. This three weeks in Gozo changed my style of diving completely and I am sure that I will never dive backmounting anymore unless I will be forced to.
“Backmounting is so dead!” they say in Yucatan / Mexico where I booked 6 months later the TDI Intro to cave and Full Cave Course with Steve and Jason – for sure all in Sidemounting configuration.
And again I was sweating, working hard but I was slowly growing, getting better, building up more awareness and acquiring new techniques that made a safer and more solid diver of me. I realised that many things concerning diving all these years were just wrong and I started to look at diving techniques with other eyes.
Steve Martin is an exceptional teacher and he is able to teach you new techniques with so much joy and passion that you will sometimes forget that you are in diving course. I loved the relaxed atmosphere during his courses: And he is a man with great humour too which makes it a pleasure to learn from him.
But be warned before booking a course with him: Even if he has this friendly attitude you will have to earn your certificate and he will not accept leaving you without completing the skills successfully.
And another warning: Your life will definitely not be the same anymore after the course – Sidemounting is highly addictive and I promise you that you will sell your old dive gear.
With this post I would like to thank once more Steve what I learned from him and also for his friendship. Peter Tschannen
To see Peter’s Cave Training picture album in Mexico click photo (below left) and for Peter’s Sidemount Essentials in Gozo click photo (below right)
The conditions very testing …strong currents, remote sites, deep dives, portable compressor…. the last dive we did together was a Night dive on a deserted beach in the middle Shetlands. We slept on the beach before we got the Ferry back to Aberdeen the next day.
10 years later, I’m diving in Gozo with him again. This time it’s Sidemount… I’d been following Stephens diving career with interest over the interval between our last dive and had no doubt he would make a success in the diving world.
The first thing I noticed was… I had become a student again… How did that happen!!!! Stephen showed me how to set up Sidemount and off we went for my first Sidemount dive… I must admit I found it so easy, I felt so balanced and glide and body posture was good… no aching back. The feeling of freedom and confidence made me feel totally relaxed… it’s something I never had with twinset, backmount set up.
Over the next few days we dived together as a family group, my other son Adam is also a diving instructor… The more dives we did the more relaxed I felt… It’s such a neat way to dive. I was aware Stephen and Adam were both keeping their eyes on me… they have come a long way since their first dives in Florida Keys… when I was looking after them!!!
Stephen has a very relaxed style of teaching and a lot of patience, good organising skills and puts a lot of time and effort into his Sidemount courses… I found it to be a very enjoyable experience and so rewarding.
Cheers for looking after ”Your Old Man” I will be diving sidemount with Steve again soon.
To see the full picture album of my Dad’s trip to Gozo and his sidemount training, click on either of the photos below
At that time I had been pondering about going sidemount for a while so eventually I gave in and booked on Steve’s course to find out for myself. I still had 3 months before the course so decided to take a weekend sidemount course in the UK to get a “head-start”. I managed to rack up around 40 sidemount dives before going to Malta so was quite confident and thought I would spend most of the 6 days repeating “Yeah, I already know this Steve”
I realised the first day that I could not be more wrong! 🙂 The sidemount essentials course literally transformed my diving. There was just so much I could learn. Finally my harness was set up correctly, the tanks were sitting nicely in trim, everything was in the right place. All those nitty gritty details were sorted out. Finally the true sidemount experience!
If there is one person who can teach you back kicks it’s Steve. I always struggled, but after some dry-land practise and video feedback it’s no longer a problem. In fact the video camera was ever present during the course. It’s invaluable to have something you can relate to in the months after the course has finished.
Steve is an exceptionally dedicated instructor and the efforts that he puts into his courses are truly unparalleled. The course was very intense yet so much fun. I still wonder where he gets his patience from (I have only been told off twice).
I could not wish for a better instructor, so much so I have since been on a technical sidemount course with Steve and another one is coming soon. If you are still reading this and thinking about whether you should book on his course, then answer is YES you should!
To see Sasha’s Sidemount Essentials course album click photo (below left) and for his Normoxic technical training click photo (below right)
Having had a week in Sidemount I had to go back to a Twinset to finish the course. It was fine, not a problem, but it was miles away from how good and trimmed I felt in Sidemount. That was the last time I dived a Twinset and I completed the rest of my tech training, including full hypoxic trimix training in Sidemount including dives to over 75m.
I’ve experienced a good range of dive instructors in my time, now being one myself! For work I actually advise on how to get the best performance out of people. Steve’s approach is exemplary. First there is an expert knowledge and experience base on which his teaching is founded. Diving Sidemount is not simply a matter of slinging a couple of tanks on your side. You need to test and refine the system and setup.
Steve has done this on trimix dives, cave dives and in all conditions. If he says moving a clip half an inch is a good idea, you can be certain he’s tried it all ways and that yep, it will work.
Steve places tremendous value on quality feedback. Not only do you get great in water coaching but everything is videoed. I’ve known him be up to the early hours editing feedback videos for clients, so they can address immediate issues, fix the learning solidly and gave a permanent reminder of exactly what the skill should be like – personalised for them.
Steve is now a great friend. I shared a flat with him in Gozo this summer and despite having 250 plus Sidemount dives done, I learned more still. As a technical divemaster I assisted Steve on a few courses, including the infamous Vazinator and Wong duo.
Steve’s professionalism shone through, his passion and love for Sidemount diving always to the fore. I now would not dream of diving OC other than using Steve’s Sidemount techniques, even though I now dive CCR, I still Sidemount my bailout!
He’ll be impossible to live with when he reads this…… so Steve…… your flat cleaning skills suck, your cooking is average and your navigation dodgy!
To see pictures of Matt during the famous Kevin & Vas course assists click either picture below to be taken to the album
On Day One of the course. Steve corrected my setup?! From hose routing/length, bungee placement, regulator setup, weight placement and rigging up tanks. There were so many little adjustments to my rig that it added up to a lot of difference! And I mean A LOT! It is good to have a tailored rig. Tailored suit just looks better. You know what I mean? And a tailored rig just dives better. That’s just the equipment side of the course.
Getting into the skill development side of the course. Let’s just say I am like an UFO in water now. Hovering, turning, swimming forward and backwards is so easy now. (Having equipment rigged properly HELPS!!) It took, work- to get there. Steve, was there every step of the way. He coached me. All those free flow regulator drills, running away BCD inflator drills, air sharing drills, O where did my mask go drill and the O IT IS TOO LATE – GOD THERE IS A GOPRO IN MY FACE drill.
All the drills, laid the foundation for me practice on. Not thrilled that I had to ditch my Pink Fins. But it is what’s needed. Guess I will be shopping for pink spray paint soon. To summarise my experience is best start with a quote from my training buddy – THE VAS-IN-A-TOR. “Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again.” – Vas Proud
I lived and trained with a dude I found on the internet. Had a training partner name Vas that I had to share the room with (I later found out he MADE that name up. There is a hint of Dodginess). I had to Google Map to get the exact location of Gozo, Malta. Once I got Gozo, there is not one clock on the island that could tell the right time. Dived with a bunch of people with TONS of experience, and willing to share their knowledge.
Reasons they share their knowledge not to show off but because they care about other divers. There are no BOX number there. It is Steve. It is Matt. It is Tom. It is Audrey. It is Bill. It is Vas. It is Siobhan aka Hulk Hogan. It is the Ku-WAIT-e connection because they are always waiting to dive.
In the short time of my stay, I made friendships, and an experience that I will never forget. What’s wrong with this picture; NOTHING. IT IS Perfection! I will leave you all with this: Taking a step back forget everything you have even known; leave your comfort zone. Take a dip into something NEW. Go out there and give Steve a try. You have no idea what you are missing.
PS. I would like to bring your attention that. Even with the worst tanning ACCIDENT in world my skin tone will no way be close to what Chris Rock has!!
To see the full course picture album of Kevin’s Normoxic sidemount training course click either picture below
I did course after course in the PADI system thinking that experience and time would change the way I felt, but it didn’t – in some ways it made it worse and after 40 minutes in the water I have already AND always had enough.
I discovered Steve Martin by accident – people had informed me that my fining technique was all over the place and I felt it too, so I did a search, which ended up looking for the frog kick and up popped Steve Martin. I’d like to say the rest is history but this is where my diving really started! I originally intended to go to Gozo on my own but instead I took my family with me, this turned out as the right decision as both my 15-year-old daughter and wife did a sidemount introduction and never want to turn back.
Looking at just the sidemount diving, I can defiantly say this is the part that was missing from my enjoyment of diving and the missing piece in the puzzle. It makes me feel so free in the water. I can do what I want with my position in the water, and my buoyancy which has always been fairly good, it is now precisely in control. I can go through gaps so small, even upside down or sideways if I want.
Everything is redundant and I feel a safer diver, able to cope with any situation. I truly wish I had done this course as my first course in diving; I have never done backmount doubles so I cannot compare, but looking at it why would I? I walk down to the water one tank at a time and not leaning forward to compensate for a being a turtle with a shell of lead.
Who would have thought I could go up and down up to 10 meters either way on using just my breathing – but that’s not sidemount that thanks to Steve Martin. Not really sure where to start with my comments about my instructor Steve, think 80/20 rule and then put him in the top 1%. I am not sure if the word professional really sums him up. Steve has an attitude to training and instruction that you will find very hard to beat.
I have in my 50 years travelled most of the world and met 100’s if not 1000’s of people in all walks of life, and very seldom do I come across people that strive for perfection the way Steve does and out of the determination, dedication and commitment, follow a lot of safe, happy divers that really enjoy their diving more since attending his courses.
I learnt so much from Steve in such a short space of time, not just about sidemount but also confidence and teaching skills. Steve is a pioneer in the diving world, many will want to emulate his teaching skills and course structure – few will match it.
The best part is the experience does not end here. I have already found out that one of my diving friends had linked into Steve from seeing my posts and comments and brought himself an X-deep Stealth. I will be doing more training with Steve and so will my family – there is five of us and all dive. My only problem will be to track and pin him down, somewhere on earth.
One last thought to all those people who are just starting out in their diving – look for the best because they are out there when it comes to instruction – they will make your diving more enjoyable and also you will save money in buying the right gear (changed my fins 3 times now but now I know I have the right ones)
I finish with an acknowledge to Steve and his friends, check out the people linked in to Steve and in particular Gozo Technical Diving – if you find a more amazing and professional bunch of people in the diving word let me know – and then I may not believe you.
Thanks Steve – a life changing experience and I think a friend for life!
To see full course picture album covering Mark’s course click on either picture below
However those risks can be reduced to a very minimum by using a handy, simple and efficient redundant equipment as well as receiving a PROPER training. Being a professional in the Aviation, I am very sensitive to the redundancy concept which is the main pillar of safety.
That’s the reason why I technically chose the sidemount configuration (and it looks underneath more or less like a twin jet aircraft…) Then, the other question was “who will train me properly”? I was told that Steve Martin was not bad in teaching, a bit young but a dynamic dude.
Well, after having followed his “sidemount essentials” training course, I must admit that’s true: he’s young, dynamic and not bad in teaching but he is especially a sidemount expert and he transmits it well!
In addition to this really high quality training, I shared very memorable moments with him, my buddies and all other people down there in an excellent atmosphere. You know what? Scuba diving has become my second passion, next to the Aviation!
To see full course picture album covering Gauthier’s course click on either picture below