Umberto Lopes

People - São João da Barra


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Boat built by Lopes. Photo: Marcelo Tabach/Diadorim Ideias
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"Atafona", which means "mill" in the Indian language, is the most beautiful beach in São João da Barra. The Atafona balneary has the second largest delta in the country and is known for suffering the advances of sea over land since 1974. Where street blocks used to be now there are ruins: of hotels, summer houses, commerce, and the police station. In the area, fishermen and artisan boat and fishing net makers now live, since fishing is the main economical activity in the region. 

Lopes and one of his creations. Photo: Marcelo Tabach/Diadorim Ideias

Umberto Pessanha Lopes is an example of the many workers who are keepers of the traditional knowledge passed from generation to generation in the fishermen community. With only one helper, Lopes builds sailboats, ferries, tour boats, and large fishing boats capable of transporting up to 50 tons of fish.

"There are no architects, engineers or projects here. It's all in my head, it's all craftwork", he says. The talent and the craft were learned from his father, who learned from his father, founder of the small shipyard where the family works to this day. In the old days, it saw 32 workers build up to 8 boats, simultaneously.

With the invasion of the sea and the passing of time, the new generations are losing interest in the craft. "By the way things go, it seems this business is ending. The young people have other interests", says Lopes who, after all, is decided to stick to his craft and to staying in Atafona. Witness to the advances of the sea over the years, he says: "it is a battle against the sea. There was a city over there and the sea covered it all. But if we run away, all meaning is lost".

General Information

Address: Atafona Beach, 3 Km from downtown São João da Barra
Phone: (+55 22) 99822-2595 / 2741-4107

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