Police mount second sea rescue search for Goolwa boatie Tony Higgins

Missing: Goolwa Boatie Tony Higgins is once again missing at sea. File photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.
Missing: Goolwa Boatie Tony Higgins is once again missing at sea. File photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.

Police are continuing a second sea rescue search for Goolwa boatie Tony Higgins, after his vessel the Margrel, was blown off its moorings near Granite Island in the early hours of Tuesday morning, September 22.

Police received a distress call at about 5am and crews were initially mobilised to waters off Hayborough, where a sea and air search began.

Search efforts have since moved south east of Victor Harbor toward the Coorong and Murray Mouth.

As of 2.30pm, rescue crews have been unable to locate Mr Higgins or the Margrel.

Victor Harbor Goolwa Sea Rescue volunteers returned to shore earlier this morning, with rough conditions impeding search efforts.

Speaking from the Bluff Boat ramp at about 10am, Squadron Leader Grant Williams said sea based search efforts were being suspended, but the squadron would return to the water when conditions improved, if required by police.

A police spokesperson said search efforts were ongoing and they would remain on site until the Margrel was located.

Police air assets including a helicopter and a plane are currently in operation as part of the search efforts.

Conditions in waters off the Fleurieu Peninsula are currently extremely poor, with strong winds buffeting the coastline.

The Granite Island Causeway had been closed on Monday morning, due to winds exceeding 100 km/h.

This latest search effort comes less than two weeks after Mr Higgins and his crewmate Derek Robinson were rescued after spending more than four days missing at sea, in the state's largest ever sea rescue operation which covered over 104,000 square kilometres.

Mr Higgins was charged with a number of offences including having an expired EPIRB and flares, and holding an inappropriate licence. He was issued with a $1000 fine.

Speaking this morning, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the first sea rescue operation had cost about $650,000.

"There is an element of frustration that the state's resources are being dedicated to this for the second time," Mr Stevens said.

"We have an obligation to ensure the safety of all South Australians and search and rescue operations 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, or put other people at risk.

"It is somewhat disappointing that we are doing this again."