Claude GRAF and the seaplane :

barre Port Grimaud

       In the spring of 1977, a seaplane moored, just like a boat, at the end of a pontoon, near the tower (where Claude GRAF lives) of the street of the same name...

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A charming personality :

       Claude GRAF is and will remain one of the most outstanding personalities of the lake city.

Taos claude Graf

       Born in the Jura where he built his first boat at the age of 12, he was able to satisfy his youthful passion on the nearby Lake Geneva. Then, as an adult, he left for Paris where he had the chance to meet Cousteau. Then began a long journey from distant continents to oceans... He became a naval architect and created many shipyards around the world, the last one in Ceylon, where he built many boats for the local fishing industry.
       "I had come to buy some Teak for a sailboat I was working on in Spain. But on reflection, it seemed more profitable to transport my drawing board than the 3 trees I was authorized to cut down." says Claude Graf to explain the creation of this last yard.

       It was in Ceylon that he was able to build his first 'Taos-Brett' ( in memory of Brett, the wife of the novelist D. H. Lawrence who had hidden and sheltered Claude Graf, an illegal immigrant to the USA, in the village of Taos in Arizona.), according to Herreshoff's plans. There he found the necessary wood and competent carpenters.
       The 'Taos-Brett' 5 brought him back to the Mediterranean and to Saint Tropez where he settled until his meeting with François SPOERRY and his enthusiasm for this new lake village under construction which became his definitive home port. He acquired a beautiful house at the end of the rue de la Tour, with a large quay that could accommodate several boats.

       "You see, when my friends from all over the world come here, I want them to find a ring to moor in and a piece of dry land to sleep on"...

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The creator of the Coches d'eau :

       He was one of the very first residents of the lake city. In 1967, he created in 48 hours with his friend Pierre Héry, the plans of the first water boat that they called the "Sense Debandaré"...

       Reminiscent of the Venetian Vaporetti, these boats, which were used to carry tourists but also as local shuttles for the residents, were specially designed to allow great maneuverability :
- Flat bottom to avoid too much wake
- Possibility of sailing (these are the only ones allowed!) at a speed of 5 knots without lapping.

Les coches d'eau a PORT GRIMAUD

       The first watercraft had white roofs or were made of unbleached canvas and the cockpit was on the right... Then the roofs took the colors of the lake city and the cockpit was in the center.

Les coches d'eau de PORT GRIMAUD

       These days the new water coches are electric with solar panels all over the roof.

Les coches d'eau électriques de Port Grimaud
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The 1st wedding in a water boat :

premier mariage

       As we have seen on the page devoted to the construction of the church, from the first wedding celebrated in Port Grimaud, the owner of the Coches d'Eau proposed that the bride and groom arrive at the church square on one of his boats.
       The first bride (photo opposite), new owner in Port Grimaud, was called Sylvie DERVELOY.
       Other weddings followed one another in Port Grimaud. And each time, either the bride and groom arrived in a "coche d'eau" if they were owners, or all the guests were entitled to a tour of the canals on a "coche d'eau", under the applause of the people present on the quays...
       A tradition was born in the lake city. It is still present today...

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Les coches d'eau peint par GT. MONIN
Aquarelle de George MONIN
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the seaplane :

       As for the seaplane which, during several days, evolved gracefully on the entrance pass to come to be stored as easily as a boat at the end of the pontoon near the tower, it was mounted on two floats equipped with retractable wheels, an invention of Claude GRAF who submitted them to navigability tests...

un hydravion a PORT GRIMAUD

l'hydravion a Port Grimaud
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Claude is sailing among the stars :

       He was one of the last great "characters" of the lake city... Claude Graf left us on September 4, 2015.

       But if you come to Port Grimaud, and if you cross a water boat on the canals, know that it is a bit of his smile and his eternal good mood that you have just approached: Having drawn them, it is his memory that will forever maliciously haunt, along the water, our lakeside city...
Claude Graf
photo: Michel GOTIN
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Ann Mayo MUIR :

Ann Mayo Muir

       Claude Graf was married to Ann Mayo Muir, American folk song singer, who released 2 solo albums ('So Goes My Heartet' and 'The Music of Ann Mayo Muir') in 2000.
       She is part of a legendary folk music trio with Gordon Bok and Ed Trickett, who have performed extensively for 25 years across the US.

Ann Mayo Muir et Claude Graf

Ann Mayo Muir

       For this album released in January 2010 and nominated for a Grammy Award, Ann Mayo Muir brings her collaboration, voice and compositions to the Ensemble Galilei.

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Interview en anglais de Claude Graf :

       "My French husband, Claude M. Graf, now 83, is speaking of his experience as a young boy in the occupied part of France. It is interesting how he had trained himself to be ready for tasks far beyond his years. He plunged himself into the Black Market with a will and energy that was fearless. This will be the start of a series" Ann Mayo MUIR

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Did they find each other ? :

       Claude Graf and Bilou, 2 characters of the lake city : They were discovering the lake city at its very beginning and never left. They were very friendly.

Claude Graf Et Bilou

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  the work of François SPOERRY...

© Yves Lhermitte 2023   Reproduction prohibited without permission...