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Singlehander’s adventure cut short

JAN. 5 — The crew of a commercial fishing vessel was pushing through the Pacific Ocean Thursday in hopes of rescuing an American sailor whose sailboat had become disabled in a storm off southern South America.

Ken Barnes, 47, of Newport Beach, Calif., called his girlfriend Tuesday on his satellite phone to report that he was adrift about 500 miles off Chile and in need of assistance, an Associated Press report says. Both masts on his 44-foot ketch Privateer had snapped, two hatches were broken, the engine had quit, he’d lost steering and the boat was taking on water in 40-knot winds and 25-foot seas, Barnes said.

U.S. Coast Guard and Chilean maritime officials picked up the signal transmitting from Barnes’ EPIRB Tuesday morning, the report says. A Chilean navy search plane spotted Barnes Thursday and reported the position to a nearby fishing trawler, Polar Pesca 1, which then headed towards that location. A navy tugboat with a helicopter and a merchant boat were also ordered to join the search.

Communication with Barnes ceased after Wednesday evening because his battery had run out of power, according to the report. Officials were not concerned that Privateer would sink and said Barnes had a survival suit on board.

Barnes set off from California Oct. 28 in a bid to sail solo nonstop around the world, according to information on his Web site. It was unclear exactly when Barnes would be rescued. Chilean authorities hoped the Polar Pesca 1 crew would reach him by either Thursday evening or sometime Friday.

— Jason Fell