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Police continue second sea rescue search for Goolwa boatie Tony Higgins

Rough seas: Sea Rescue Squadron boats returned to Victor Harbor at about 10am, with conditions being too rough to continue search efforts.
Rough seas: Sea Rescue Squadron boats returned to Victor Harbor at about 10am, with conditions being too rough to continue search efforts.

The man who cost the South Australian government more than half a million dollars in search and rescue costs less than two weeks ago, is missing again.

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.

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.

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.

A severe weather warning had been issued for the region by the Bureau of Meteorology on Monday morning and the Granite Island Causeway was closed, 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."

EARLIER:

Police have launched a second sea rescue search for boatie Tony Higgins, after his vessel the Margrel, was blown off its moorings in the early hours.

Police received a distress call about 5am on Tuesday and crews have been mobilised to waters off Hayborough, where a sea and air search is underway.

As yet rescue crews have not found Mr Higgins or the Margrel. There are three boats and a helicopter involved in the search.

Local police are being provided with assistance from PolAir and the Police Water Operations Unit and Sea Rescue volunteers are currently conducting a search around Granite Island.

Conditions off South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula are currently extremely poor, with strong winds buffeting the coastline.

Tony Higgins

Tony Higgins

Barely two weeks ago Mr Higgins and his mate Derek Robinson aboard the Margrel were the subjects of a massive, multi-agency four-day search.

While Mr Robinson was quick to head to dry land to be reunited with waiting family, Mr Higgins stayed aboard the boat, insisting everything was always under control.

"We didn't need to be rescued. I have been at sea many times and it is not my first rodeo," Mr Higgins said at the time.

"I am very thankful to everyone who cared and conducted the search. The only problem we really had was knocking off a blade of the propeller and this slowed us."

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Derek Robinson (centre) is reunited with his family.

Derek Robinson (centre) is reunited with his family.

This story Second sea rescue search for SA boatie in two weeks continues first appeared on The Times.