Gilbert Klingel: Life and accomplishments

This overview is from a biography posted by Stuart Coleman, the grandson of Wally Coleman, Klingel’s shipmate in the Inagua saga, and written by Marcy Benouameur, Gilbert Klingel’s daughter. The full biography is available as “The Author | Inagua the Book” at www.inaguabook.com, see link below.


Gilbert Klingel, a man of many talents, was an American naturalist, explorer, photographer, author, pioneer in underwater exploration, inventor, metallurgist, and a boatbuilder. Of all these talents, however, he was first and foremost a naturalist and a writer.  He had a fascination for the natural world around him and could describe it in great detail with a literary style that makes scientific material interesting.   His inventions, as a pioneer in underwater exploration and photography made the study of marine life easier to observe at a time when few people thought it possible to spend extended periods of time below the surface of the water.  His later years, as a retired metallurgist, led him to build boats by the sea he knew and loved so well.

Klingel was a self made, self-educated Renaissance man, one of those rare individuals who could excel in almost any field.  He was an avid reader and when he wasn’t reading, writing, or exploring, he was building.  He could build most anything from a small piece of furniture to a large seventy five foot boat.  When he needed a piece of furniture, he made it; a home, he built it; a boat, he would construct one.  He began by building these out of wood and later in life when he learned how to work steel, he would build out of steel.  He designed and built an electric lawn mower when only push mowers were available.  In later years, he built his own elevator for the apartment above his boat shop.  This elevator is still in use today.

Klingel is known for three books and many articles.  Inagua (1940, 1961, 1997, 2010), also entitled The Ocean Island, was the result of two scientific expeditions to the Bahamas.  In The Bay (1951, 1984) Klingel gives his wonderful observations of sea life in and around the Chesapeake Bay.   His third book, Boatbuilding With Steel (1973, 1991) was the direct result of thirty years experience pioneering the use of steel in yacht construction.

Continue reading… The Author | Inagua the Book