According to Chilean legend, the Caleuche" is a large ghost ship sailing the seas around Chiloé (a small island off the coast of Chile) at night. The Caleuche is said to be a being who is conscious and sentient. The ship appears as a beautiful and bright white sailing ship, with 3 masts of 5 sails each, always full of lights and with the sounds of a party on board, but quickly disappears again, leaving no evidence of its presence. The ghost ship is also known to be able to navigate under water, just like another well known ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman.
The myths claim it is crewed by the drowned, who are brought to the ship by three Chilote mythological figures, two sisters: the sirena chilota (a type of mermaid) and the Pincoya and their brother the Pincoy. Once aboard, the dead can resume an existence as if they were alive again.
The folklore of chiloé also says that the evil Brujo Chilote (a type of sorcerer and warlock) likes to visit the party, which they reach by summoning up magical caballo marino chilote (mythical creature similar to a water horse).
Her crew is also composed of fishermen and sailors who were kidnapped to serve as human slaves after having been transformed into a creature very similar to an Invunche (creature of the Chilote mythology).
The legend of the Caleuche is referred to in Alastair Reynolds' 2001 novel Chasm City, when the Chilean crewmembers of a generation ship discover a 'ghost ship' trailing the flotilla of colony vessels and dub the ship 'Caleuche'.
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- Michel Meurger, Claude Gagnon. Lake monster traditions: a cross-cultural analysis. Fortean Tomes, 1988.