Peter Wetenhall - 1984 - 1998
Here follows a personal account by Peter Wetenhall, now an Honorary Life member of the club. I was active between 1984 when I first arrived to about 2002 and undertook various roles from treasurer, training officer, DO and Chairman. I am trying to rack my brain for the precise dates but unfortunately a lot of my pre 1990 notes and photos are in storage in the UK due to the disruption caused by the war in 1990. This is what I recall. The Club was formed in about 1978 as an offshoot from Fahaheel boat club. It established itself as a KOC funded club to boost recreational activities for expats along side the carting club. The club was initially given a budget to buy a boats, compressors and some equipment. The club had two aluminium 16ft boats with 40HP outboards known as the “cockle shells.” They got the club started but could only provide cover for shore dives and the odd trip to 5 mile reef which I can later vouch was a real adventure. Mantas became a branch of the British Sub Aqua Club I believe in 1979.. Finley MaClusky (MAC) was DO in about 1982ish but left the dive scene before I arrived. He is actually still in Kuwait. In 1984 I started diving in Kuwait with the Mantas. With the club still affiliated to KOC, (but funding withdrawn) we used to meet in our own KOC premises in East Ahmadi shared with the carting club. The small aluminium boats were fast outliving their usefulness, since the real diving was only possible off the islands via club members that owned their own boats and then we started planning for our own club boat. Eventually we parted from KOC in about 1985 and started regular Tuesday socials around each other homes. The club was changing. Bill Potts was DO for at least 5 years up to 1987 and Macomb Wringe was Chairman.
From about 1987 onwards my fellow committee members included Miles Hoffman his future wife Nikki Mirkatroyd, John & Helen Newton (who learnt to dive and bought a boat), Tom & Gilly, Mike Jennings, Ian Mills (still in Kuwait). Here the modern Mantas dive club was formed with our own communal club boat. First a typical Kuwait fishing boat 22ft with twin 40's ...boy we thought we had finally MADE IT, with regular decent diving at last. Um Miradum was possible and interest in the club mushroomed. The Mantas was THE Dive club of Kuwait and diving was good with not too many other boats going to the Islands. Typically we formed convoys for safety with other club members who owned boats (no Satellite Navigation then !). At this time the first PADI outfits started arriving to compete with the Mantas. We were on a roll and Life was great! It was relatively short lived though since our world came crashing down at 6am on the 2nd August 1990. Iraq took Kuwait by surprise and invaded. We actually had a dive planned for that Thursday morning. Myself and the others in Kuwait during the summer went into hiding until December. Miles was shot in the leg trying to run from the Iraqi soldiers after he had been discovered living in Jabriya. (He later recovered well and enjoyed the publicity- I think). But all that is another story. Unfortunately, for the club though the boat and our training equipment were looted during the lawless period up to February 1991.
After liberation Miles, Nikki, Ian, a few others and I restarted the Mantas and within a year or so purchased a larger Kuwaiti fishing boat - 27ft with twin 115's. A huge improvement for diving was now possible and the club started to rebuild into its present form. During this period I was very active as DO with Miles for about 10 years. At this time Rob Harris Jones his wife Jane learnt to dive! Geoff Delange joined and his son Matt learnt to dive and many others. Nothing could stop Mantas now. Garu Island was a regular dive. We had recovered. Also during this period, I compiled a UN claim on behalf of the club. After initially receiving a rejection, since we weren’t an official Kuwaiti club, was informed via the FCO that the UN commission would reconsider our claim and a nominal payment was eventually received. Myself and Miles helping to raise a local Dowel in Shaab marina sunk during the invasion. In about 1996 (I think) we replaced the boat again with the maroon coloured twin hulled cat with twin 200's, Sat Nav had arrived! After a few years, disaster struck, when the one of the engines blew. However at this moment the UN claim materialized and this was sufficient to cover the cost of a replacement engine. This takes us to about 1998. Peter Wetenhall -