Debris located as search for missing boatie enters second day

Tony Higgins and his vessel the Margrel have been missing since 5am Tuesday morning, September 22. Photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.
Tony Higgins and his vessel the Margrel have been missing since 5am Tuesday morning, September 22. Photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.

More debris has been found in the search for a timber-hulled fishing boat missing for the second time this month off the South Australian coast.

Just after 6.30am police received a call from a local commercial fisherman after he had discovered a number of items of debris washed ashore several kilometres south-east from the Murray Mouth.

The debris appears consistent with items from the missing boat the Margrel.

Patrols and the police helicopter (PolAir) are making their way to the area to conduct a coastal search, while a fixed wing aircraft will focus on searching open waters in the same area.

The search for Mr Higgins began on Tuesday morning, after his vessel the Margrel, was blown off its moorings near Granite Island, Victor Harbor, amid high winds and rough seas.


Police received a distress call at about 5am, with Mr Higgins reportedly knee deep in water aboard his vessel.

Sea Rescue volunteers and police combed waters until 10am, when rough conditions impeded search efforts.

The search continued from the air and moved south-east toward the Coorong and Murray Mouth as the day progressed.

PolAir and SAPOL's fixed wing aircraft were assisted by a Challenger aircraft provided by AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), which searched the area until 11pm ]using infrared radar equipment.

Debris found in the water around 4.30pm yesterday by aircraft is currently being examined.

A coastal search resumed this morning at first light using PolAir and vehicles.

According to police, the Margrel was last seen anchored off Granite Island about 3pm on Monday.

Mr Higgins, 57, and his mate, Derek Robinson, 48, were the subject of a major search south of Port Lincoln earlier this month after nothing was heard from the pair for several days.

The Margrel was eventually spotted off Coorong and towed to shore.

Tony Higgins

Tony Higgins

Mr Higgins was later fined $1000 fine for having insufficient safety equipment and no boat operator's licence.

He insisted at the time he didn't ask to be rescued and the pair "knew exactly where we were".

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said on Tuesday while search operations would always be conducted there was an "element of frustration" that the state's resources had been called on again.

He said the first search cost about $650,000.

"Search and rescue efforts will always be undertaken but there is an obligation that sits with all of us to act in a way that doesn't put ourselves at risk," Mr Stevens said.

"It's unfortunate we are doing this again for the same person in such a short period of time."

Paramedics and police remain on standby onshore.

This story Debris found as search for missing boatie enters second day first appeared on The Times.