Twist in missing boatie saga as keys and glasses are found among debris washed up on a remote beach 

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Fears are growing after a missing fisherman’s bag containing his glasses, keys and ID was found washed up on a beach as the search entered its third day.

Tony Higgins, 57, sent out a distress call to police about 5am on Tuesday when he was moored near Granite Island off Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide.

Mr Higgins said his wooden fishing boat Margrel was ‘taking on water’ and police launched a search operation with a rescue helicopter and Sea Rescue volunteers.  

Debris was found washed up near the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning consistent with items from Mr Higgin’s boat.

Tony Higgins, 57, sent out a distress call to police about 5am on Tuesday when he was moored near Granite Island off Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide

Tony Higgins, 57, sent out a distress call to police about 5am on Tuesday when he was moored near Granite Island off Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide 

Debris was found washed up near the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning consistent with items from Mr Higgin's boat

Debris was found washed up near the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning consistent with items from Mr Higgin’s boat

The items include his glasses, keys and an ID card belonging to the missing boatie, The Advertiser reported.

Rescue crews also found parts of Mr Higgins’ boat including some of the floor, jerry cans and other equipment.

The 57-year-old’s friend and former deckhand said the fisherman left for the Murray Mouth early on Tuesday morning.

‘It saddens me, his boat has gone down … I can only hope he’s got a life jacket on and he’s made it to land,’ he said. 

Police are still investigating the disappearance. 

This is the second time within weeks emergency services have launched a rescue mission for Mr Higgins and his 33ft vessel.

The fisherman and his friend Derek Robinson, 48, sparked South Australia’s largest-ever maritime search when they went missing while travelling from Coffin Bay near Port Lincoln to Goolwa on September 3.

Debris was found washed up near the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning consistent with items from Mr Higgin's boat

Debris was found washed up near the Murray Mouth on Wednesday morning consistent with items from Mr Higgin’s boat

Mr Higgins said his wooden fishing boat Margrel was 'taking on water' and police have now launched another search operation with a rescue helicopter and Sea Rescue volunteers

Mr Higgins said his wooden fishing boat Margrel was ‘taking on water’ and police have now launched another search operation with a rescue helicopter and Sea Rescue volunteers

The duo were one day into their trip on thewooden-hulled fishing boat when they started to experience engine trouble.

They were eventually found on September 10, just hours after the search operation was called off.

Despite missing for nearly a week, Mr Higgins claimed he had no idea about the rescue mission.

‘We didn’t even know anyone was looking for us,’ Mr Higgins said at the time.

‘I didn’t ask to come get rescued. I knew exactly where we were.’

He believes the trouble was sparked when one of the propeller’s three blades broke off after hitting a turtle or submerged log.

Derek Robinson pictured after reuniting with family on September 10 after a massive four-day search for the two fishermen was called off

Derek Robinson pictured after reuniting with family on September 10 after a massive four-day search for the two fishermen was called off

The massive search operation – covering more than 120,000 square kilometres – involved police, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and members of the Royal Australian Air Force.

It also involved Kangaroo Island and Volunteer Marine Rescue members.

Crews spent days searching an area larger than Tasmania covered in an attempt to find the men.

Fears were raised when the men were not located after several weather warnings and days of treacherous conditions.

Mr Higgins was fined $1,000 for having an out-of-date Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), as well as old flares on board and not having an appropriate recreational boat licence. 

Fears were raised over the two men when they went missing on September 3 due to the rough conditions at sea (pictured Derek Robinson returns to shore)

Fears were raised over the two men when they went missing on September 3 due to the rough conditions at sea (pictured Derek Robinson returns to shore)

The men were headed to Goolwa when they went missing earlier this month, from Coffin Bay near Port Lincoln, they told a friend they would try make it to Kangaroo Island after their engine failed but ended up in Salt Creek

The men were headed to Goolwa when they went missing earlier this month, from Coffin Bay near Port Lincoln, they told a friend they would try make it to Kangaroo Island after their engine failed but ended up in Salt Creek

Freelance video journalist Gary Juleff told the ABC when police arrived on Tuesday morning following the distress call, the boat had vanished.

‘When I got down here, nobody could see the boat,’ Mr Juleff said.

‘(Police) tried to phone him back – no answer – so the answer to this question is ‘nobody knows’.

‘They said there’s nothing out there and we don’t know where he is.’ 

Over the weekend, Mr Higgins found himself in trouble again when the Margrel ran aground on a sandbar in Victor Harbor.

The rescue mission is ongoing.  

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said a second search party for the vessel was ‘frustrating’ for authorities. 

‘I think it’s fair to say there’s an element of frustration that the state’s resources are being dedicated to this for a second time,’ he said.

‘The first event cost us in the order of about $650,000.’

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