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Reconstruction of a dalca in the museum of Dalcahue.

The dalca is a type of canoe employed by the Chonos, a nomadic indigenous people of southern Chile. It was a light boat and ideal for navigating local waterways, including between islands of the Chiloé Archipelago, through the Chacao Channel to mainland Chile, and along the coast of the Gulf of Penas. Spanish chronicles called it best-suited for those waters, far superior to ships of the conquistadores.

Origin and construction[edit]

The dalca was created by native Chilotes in Chile's Chiloé Archipelago of Chile, starting from a form of canoe created by the neighboring Huilliche people.

It consisted of three planks of larch or cypres, cut to a length appropriate to capacity needed. Typically, these were 10 m (33 ft) long, allowing for twelve oarsmen. It was usually propelled by oars, though in favorable wind, it was assisted by a folding mast and leather sail The hull planks were formed with water and fire to the desired shape.

In Chiloe, some believe a number the dalca '​s design elements may be of Polynesian origin, such as the catamaran design, a form known only among the Chumash Indians of California and Polynesians.

Pueblo Dalcahue took its name from large numbers of dalcas washed ashore en route to Quinchao, in the Chiloé Archipelago.

See also[edit]


  • Garcia, Jose (1889). "Travel Diary i navigation made by Father José Garcia of the Company of Jesus from its mission of Cailã n, in Chiloe, toward the south, in the years 1766-1767 ".
  • Hydrographic Yearbook of the Chilean Navy. Took 14 Valparaiso : Hydrographic Institute of the Chilean Navy. pp. 3–42.
  • Cárdenas Renato, Dante Montiel and Catherine Hall (1991). The Chono and the regattas of Chiloé. Santiago, Chile:


  • Edwards, Clinton R (1965) "Aboriginal Watercraft on the Pacific Coast of South America." University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.