MY HEALTH: Dudley Wheeler

Ranchos Palos Verdes,
distributor and manufacturer for In-Tec

How I keep in shape:

Well, I dive. I came out here in ’66 . First thing my wife and I bought was a boat, and we spent our weekends out on the water diving. We’d go to Catalina—if not every weekend then every other weekend during the summer. Back then you could get abalone. Now I dive Saturday and Sunday, one or two tanks. 


When I started diving:

Started diving probably in ’52. I sent away for my first dive gear Vermont. Prior to that, a lot of snorkeling. We had a camp on Lake Champlain, and we spent a lot of summers out there. I was on the water with my masks and fins, just trying to get down. First time I tried , I used a piece of water hose with a float on the end. Fine going down, but I couldn’t breathe very well. Then I took a five-gallon gas tank and cut the bottom out and put a faceplate in it so I could see. Oh it was a whole new world down there!


My health challenges: 

No, no health . But every Thanksgiving, I’d go diving. Back in Vermont, for Thanksgiving all the men went deer hunting. Out here there’s no deer hunting, but I would go lobster hunting. 

I have a favorite spot out here that’s in 110 feet of water. And on one Thanksgiving it was really clear. From the bottom you could see the outline of the boat—that’s very unusual here. Something caught my eye, and about 10 feet away was a great white shark. And then there was one on the other side of him, and another on the other side of him. They were good 20-footers. 

It took me that long to realize that they were basking sharks. The profile is similar. They swam around me and disappeared. But for 10 seconds, I was wondering what I was going to do.


My biggest achievement:

When I was in Vermont, after I got out of the service and I went to the University of Vermont, well back then no one was diving. There were maybe half a dozen of us. But from the military we got one of those “Ducks” , and
we were the underwater rescue for the Burlington area when I was in college. 


Words of wisdom:

“Just enjoy it. It’s beautiful down there. And just don’t panic—it’s one of the safest things you can do.”