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Missing SA men found alive, then fined

Two men rescued after going missing in waters off the South Australian coast have told differing tales of their "rough and rocky" adventure at sea.

One was ecstatic to wobble back on dry land, while the other was stung with a fine for having dodgy safety equipment on board their vessel.

Tony Higgins, 57, and Derek Robinson, 48, left Coffin Bay on the Eyre Peninsula in a 10-metre wooden-hulled fishing boat called the Margrel, bound for Goolwa a week ago.

They were listed as missing on Sunday after reporting engine trouble to a friend two days earlier.

A large-scale search was called off on Wednesday night but two hours later, the men made contact with police.

The Magrel was escorted on Thursday to Granite Island near Victor Harbor, with Mr Robinson embracing his family after returning to dry land.

"Emotional, very much emotional," he said.

"I knew I would see them again but I just didn't know when.

"I'm glad to be back. I'm on steady ground here but it feels like my legs are wobbling all over the place."

But Mr Higgins said he was "horrified" when the police rescue boat arrived.

"I didn't ask to be rescued. We knew exactly where we were," he told the Seven Network.

Mr Higgins said the boat had simply lost a blade off its prop, forcing him to slow down.

However, he said he greatly appreciated the efforts of all those involved in the search.

Mr Higgins was also hit with $1000 fine for having insufficient safety equipment and no boat operators licence.

Police said an inspection revealed both an out-of-date emergency beacon and flares.

The four-day aerial search covered more than 103,000 square kilometres in waters south of Port Lincoln.

But it wasn't until their boat moved back into mobile phone coverage on Wednesday night that they realised a major operation to find them was underway.

The men were able to report their position, about 13 nautical miles off Meningie at the top of the Coorong.

Mr Robinson said they had encountered some rough seas.

"It was rough, it was rocky," he said.

"I don't think I felt scared, I felt just isolated. I felt like the world doesn't exist because we were out in the middle of nowhere.

"There are scary moments when you see big waves coming at you ... good fun, all part of the adventure."

Mr Robinson appeared to be in good spirits, cracking jokes and saying he and Mr Higgins reassured each other throughout the ordeal.

"I dropped my phone on the first night," he said.

"I actually fell in the drink with it in my pocket off the wharf ... so my phone was buggered the whole way through."

© AAP 2020