SANTIAGO, Chile -- A Chilean Navy search plane has spotted an American solo sailor on his storm-battered yacht off the southern tip of South America, and a trawler was heading to rescue him, the military said yesterday.
Ken Barnes, of Newport Beach, Calif., also made visual contact with the pilots from his yacht, which has two broken masts and a disabled engine, the navy said.
Barnes, 47, set off from Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 28 in a 44-foot ketch called the Privateer in hopes of sailing around the world. His girlfriend, Cathy Chambers, said he called her Tuesday in California on his satellite phone to say he was in trouble in a storm.
He told Chambers he had lost engine power and steering and had two broken masts and broken hatches. The Privateer was also taking on water in 46-mile-per-hour winds and 25-foot swells, she said.
One of the navy pilots, Captain Gonzalo Vasquez, told Chilean state television that the Privateer was not in danger of sinking. The navy also said the storm that had battered the yacht had passed and the weather had improved greatly.
The navy search plane reported Barnes's position to the trawler, Polar Pesca 1, yesterday but it was unclear how long it would take to reach his yacht near the western entry to the Straits of Magellan.
Local media indicated it could happen as soon as last evening, but a US Embassy spokeswoman, Judith Baroody, said the vessel probably would not reach Barnes before this afternoon.
Chambers said Barnes's most recent phone call on Wednesday evening would probably be his last because his battery had run out. She said he had contacted her six times since Tuesday.
"He's shaky, scared, but I think he's hopeful now that he's seen the plane . . . He just wants them to get him out," she said.