Personal items located as abuse of missing skipper is revealed

Belongings located: A number of items, including a wallet and set of keys belonging to missing boatie Tony Higgins have been discovered between the Murray Mouth and Goolwa Beach.
Belongings located: A number of items, including a wallet and set of keys belonging to missing boatie Tony Higgins have been discovered between the Murray Mouth and Goolwa Beach.

A number of items discovered several kilometres from the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning have been confirmed as belonging to missing Goolwa fisherman Tony Higgins.

Police are searching for Mr Higgins for the second time in a matter of weeks as it emerged that he had been vilified after the first incident and his former crewmate thought Mr Higgins may have fled the situation.

Police and emergency services were on Wednesday continuing the sea rescue search for Mr Higgins, 57, after receiving a distress call about 5am on Tuesday.

Mr Higgins was reportedly knee deep in water aboard his vessel the Margrel, which had been anchored off Granite Island, Victor Harbor.

A severe weather warning had been issued for the region by the Bureau of Meteorology, with winds exceeding 100 km/h.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the search has lasted two days and covered about 500 square kilometres, from Encounter Bay to Cape Jaffa.

Operations Inspector of Hills Fleurieu LSA, Gus Sickerdick said it was unclear if Mr Higgins had deliberately set sail, or been blown from moorings in the rough conditions.

"We are still investigating the circumstances and what has gone wrong," Mr Sickerdick said.

"Patrols are out at the moment along Goolwa Beach, about three kilometres up from the Mouth where a person found a bag containing a number of belongings including the keys and wallet of Mr Higgins.

"Our patrols have searched from the Mouth to the Goolwa Beach Surf Rescue [Club] and have found a number of other pieces of debris which will form part of the investigation.

"The search will continue and our fixed wing aircraft will continue its runs. We cannot currently carry out sea searches because conditions are too rough.

"We will reassess the rescue operation tomorrow."

The 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.

Concerned: Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, friend Derek Robinson revealed Mr Higgins had been dealing with constant abuse while anchored off Victor Harbor.

Concerned: Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, friend Derek Robinson revealed Mr Higgins had been dealing with constant abuse while anchored off Victor Harbor.

The pair were discovered in Salt Creek before being towed to Victor Harbor, where Mr Higgins had remained anchored since.

He and the Margrel were last spotted at about 3pm on Monday, September 21, anchored off Granite Island.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, an emotional Mr Robinson said Mr Higgins may have been forced to leave Victor Harbor after suffering constant abuse.

"What kind of a society do we live in where we kick someone who is down?" Mr Robinson said.

"He [Mr Higgins] Probably got fed up with the amount of crap he had to put up with and people judging him.

"He was being abused from the wharf... but there are family and friends out there missing this man... people have been so nasty."

"He was towed to Granite Island, fined and charged and then just left to his own devices... I think people should have been there to help him and get him in [from the water]."

Still missing: Goolwa fisherman has been missing at sea for two days. Photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.

Still missing: Goolwa fisherman has been missing at sea for two days. Photo: Fleurieu Multimedia.

Mr Robinson said Mr Higgins had safety equipment on board the Margrel including life jackets, in-date flares and a functioning radio.

He suggested Mr Higgins may have deliberately left Victor Harbor in the early hours of Tuesday, September 22.

Mr Robinson also criticised vicious social media commentary which has persisted since the pairs' initial rescue two weeks ago.

"I miss you mate, come back please," Mr Robinson said.

"Everybody is thinking about you and hoping you are alright... people just miss you."

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