Rescue Mission Under Way for Distressed California Sailor Off Chilean Coast

Rescue efforts were under way Wednesday to save a California sailor adrift in a badly damaged sailboat in the Pacific Ocean off Chile while trying to circumnavigate the globe, officials said.

Ken Barnes, 47, who left California on Oct. 28 in the 44-foot (13-meter) Privateer, called girlfriend Cathy Chambers by satellite phone on Tuesday and reported he was in trouble, Chambers said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Chilean maritime officials picked up signals from Barnes' distress beacon Tuesday afternoon and believe he was about 500 miles (804 kilometers) off the coast of Chile.

Barnes reported he lost engine power and steering and had two broken masts and broken hatches, Chambers said. The vessel was taking on water in 40-knot winds and 25-foot (7.5-meter) swells.

Chambers said Barnes last called around 5 a.m. PST (1300 GMT) Wednesday, she said.

"We need someone out there right away to get to him. He has supplies, but I don't know how many of them are good and how many aren't because now there's water in the boat," said Chambers.

The Coast Guard and the Chilean government were coordinating a rescue mission, said Lt. Tim McGhee, Coast Guard spokesman. The Chilean navy dispatched a vessel that was expected to reach Barnes within 30 hours, McGhee said.

Chile sent an airplane out on Tuesday and Wednesday to search for Barnes, McGhee said.

"I do know from reviewing his Web site that he was well-equipped for the journey he was making. He had all the survival gear on board," said McGhee.