• Nellie

The Onomatology of Chilote

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Chilote mythology
Mural at the open air museum of San Miguel

So the story begins in 1978 being built in Harbor City California. The original owners of Chilote, a doctor and his wife, had her delivered to them in Maryland. Her name was not Chilote at that time. It was Freedom. Well this couple sailed this little 28 foot boat from the East coast to the Caribbean. From there they took her through the Panama Canal, turned South to Chile. It is here where they fell in love with the people and the place. So much so they changed the name of the boat from Freedom to Chilote. Now its kind of a big deal to change the name of a boat. Legend says that when every ship is christened, its name goes into a "ledger of the deep" maintained by Neptune himself. So sailors consider it good form to preform a re-naming ceremony or ritual to make the sea gods happy and aware. This must have been true of this couple because they continued their journey North. They made it all the way to Charleston Oregon safely on Chilote. It is here were the fortune traded hands. Without much detail of the circumstance what we know is she collided with the dock at Skallerud Marine to rip a large hole in the starboard about midship. She sunk right at the dock. Well Monty Beed, the owner of Skallerud, with his workmanship repaired Chilote to be seaworthy again. Monty ultimately became the second owner. Then Christopher the third.

Now to get back to the name Chilote. Chilote is a mythology formed by the myths, legends and beliefs of the people who live in the Chiloé Archipelago located in the south of Chile. This mythology reflects the importance of the sea in the life of Chilotes. Now this is a very in depth mythology, as many are, with many creatures and legends. In brief the original creation is the legend of Trentren Vilu (related to the earth) and Caicai ( related to water). It is a Mapuche flood myth that tells the story of a fierce battle between two mythical snakes that were used as an instrument through which the will of the ancient spirits was fulfilled. Ultimately Caicai became enraged because of the ungratefulness that men showed for every gift given to them by the sea, used his fish-shaped tail to hit the water causing a great flood and bring all its inhabitants to the bottom of the sea. Caicai was partially defeated as Tenten provided protection by transforming those who were trapped by water into birds, so they could fly away. Those that were drowning into fish and marine mammals and sumpall( Mapuche mermen & mermaids) Caicai was also defeated as he wasn't able to flood all the land and the waters did not return completely to their old level giving Chile its current geography.

We, the crew of Chilote, were also aware of the other meaning of the word Chilote in Nicaragua, which is "tender baby corn" coming from the Nahuatl word xilotl. The irony here is that her deck is painted by Chris bright yellow. Not for corn, but rather to be highly visible on the blue ocean if you were to be looking from above especially.

What we did not know until our arrival in Mexico is that in the Hispanic culture Chilote usually refers to the astonishing dimensions of the " big chile pepper" of an hombre. You can imagine the giggles that abound with a crew of a bunny rabbit and a modest couple arrived onboard such a confidently named vessel.


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