A Chilean navy search plane has found an American solo sailor on his disabled yacht off the southern tip of South America and reported his position Thursday to a trawler that was heading to rescue him, the military said.

Ken Barnes of Newport Beach, Calif., "also made visual contact with the pilots," the navy added.

Barnes was aboard his yacht, which has its two masts broken and a has lost its engine.

The navy did not say when the trawler Polar Pesca 1 is expected to reach Barnes' yacht Privateer.

Local media indicated it could happen as early as Thursday evening, but U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Judith Baroody said the vessel probably would not reach Barnes before Friday afternoon.

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The embassy had been in contact with Barnes' family and Chilean authorities, and has "full confidence" in the capacity of Chile to handle the emergency, Baroody said.

Cathy Chambers, Barnes' girlfriend, 47, was waiting in their home Wednesday for further word on the situation, officials said. His 21-year-old twin daughters, Teryn and Brittney Barnes, and other family members waited with her.

Barnes first called her on Tuesday to report he was in trouble, and he made several subsequent calls before reporting that the Chilean P-3 dropped a raft. Although it did not make it to his boat, Chambers noted that he already had a raft aboard his vessel.

Barnes set off from Long Beach, California, on Oct. 28 in his 44-foot yacht, hoping to sail around the world.

After he reported trouble, the U.S. Coast Guard and Chilean maritime officials picked up signals Tuesday afternoon, when he was believed to be about 500 miles off the Pacific coast of Chile.

Barnes told Chambers he had lost engine power and steering and had two broken masts and broken hatches, she said. The Privateer was also taking on water in 40-knot winds and 25-foot swells, he reported.