Tony Higgins, the man who led police and authorities on the largest marine search in South Australia’s history a couple of weeks ago is again missing.
Grave fears are held for Mr Higgins with “treacherous” weather conditions hampering an emergency search.
Authorities launched a second search for the Margrel on Tuesday morning after the man on board, Tony Higgins, reported it was taking on water in rough seas off Granite Island, south of Adelaide.
A wallet containing Mr Higgins’ identification was found washed up on Goolwa Beach on Wednesday by a member of the public, along with other personal items.
A commercial fisherman earlier discovered a number of items of debris washed ashore several kilometres from the Murray Mouth.
SA Police have been unable to search open waters in the same area using a fixed-wing aircraft because of the rough conditions, instead focusing their efforts on the coast.
“It’s impossible to see anything from the sky, that’s why we’re not using PolAir (police helicopter) or the fixed-wing across the ocean,” Inspector Gus Sickerdick said on Wednesday.
“They just can’t see anything. To put a boat out there or a jetski or something like that would be treacherous. The surf is really, really rough.”
Insp Sickerdick said the fixed-wing aircraft would do another coastal run on Wednesday afternoon and again on Thursday morning.
Police will also scour the coast to see if anything else washes up, having already conducted land searches from Encounter Bay to Murray Mouth.
“We always hope that we do find him alive. Obviously as it goes on, the chances of doing that are diminishing,” he said.
“We’ve got to bear in mind the conditions, the nature of the surf and if he is in the ocean, how it is affecting him and if he’s got anything to protect himself from all of that.”
Mr Higgins’ family has been updated and is helping police with the search.
“Obviously they are distressed,” Insp Sickerdick said.
“The thing is not knowing and being uncertain of what’s happened. But they’ve been really, really helpful with us. They’ve assisted us all the way through.”
Debris was also discovered in the water on Tuesday afternoon by a Challenger aircraft provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The aircraft searched the area until 11pm on Tuesday night using infrared radar.
Mr Higgins, 57, and Derek Robinson, 48, were the subject of a major search south of Port Lincoln two weeks ago after nothing was heard from the pair for several days.
The Margrel was eventually spotted off Coorong and towed to shore.
Mr Higgins was later fined $1000 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”.