Want to know what my in-water courses are like ? …these customers testimonials should cover it

Jan from Germany, Baltic Sea Coast, July 2023

After a few weeks of research as to where I could learn Sidemount diving in Germany, the answer was clear: nowhere.

Admittedly, as a diving instructor I have quite high standards, but even experienced sidemount divers, including a GUE instructor who offers SM courses himself, have repeatedly recommended Steve Martin to me.

At first, I had reservations about the foreign language. But thanks to the “Free Training” videos, I was able to quickly see that almost all videos have a voiceover, as Steve also conveys the content very clearly and understandably to non-native speakers. Combined with the video itself, it was really easy for me to follow.

The online training was excellent preparation for me. I had never had any contact with sidemount before and unfortunately there is no sidemount scene in any regional environment. So, I was completely on my own, with the videos taking me step by step.

Thanks to the many helpful details and descriptions in the videos, I started buying equipment and going into the water with my old GoPro to train. It took a few dives and a lot of video time, but gradually I became more comfortable in my new configuration.

With the videos, the pause button and rewinding helped me a lot ;-). Many important sequences are played in slow motion anyway, which made it even easier to see all the details.

This was followed by the Sidemount Essential course with Steve on Gozo. Here I can keep it short: For me (also as a master instructor) it was the best course I have experienced so far. Not only that, thanks to the preparation with the videos, the training was highly effective. I was also able to learn and take a lot with me as a diving instructor.

Steve responded to us individually (we were two students in total) and the topic of the foreign language was no longer a big deal for me from day one. I was already aware that I would develop further in the course – but the jump was so big, I was very surprised.

Back home, thanks to the comprehensive video material (approx. 150GB) that Steve had made for us, I was able to deepen what I had learned and continue to practice. In addition, new content is always published in the online course, which I think is great!

Even if there were other questions, for example about new equipment, I could always turn to Steve and Vas. Both of them were always able to help me very quickly and I always felt welcome with my topics.

For me it was not only a nice experience, but a big change for me as a diver and diving instructor – with consequences. 🙂

I can recommend both the online training and the in-water training with Steve & Vas to everyone. Many thanks to Steve & Vas for this valuable work and for supporting us all with so much commitment on our way. This is unique in my experience.

Sasha - Sidemount Cave Diving Course, Mexico (December 2013)“Sasha, I’m sorry but you have to take two weeks off before the year’s end” said the man and I instantly knew what was going to happen…

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)

Paul Martin - My Father Learns to Sidemount Dive, Gozo (Sept 2013)The last time I did any serious diving with my son Stephen was in The Shetland’s. I remember it well twin 12’s back mounted with OMS bungied wing and drysuit about 10 years ago.

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.

Paul Martin - My Father Learns to Sidemount Dive, Gozo

Paul Martin – My Father Learns to Sidemount Dive, Gozo

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