Two fishermen found alive off the coast of South Australia after being missing for four days are on their way home.
The pair - Derek Robinson, 48, and Tony Higgins, 57, - managed to contact family last night, just hours after the massive official search was called off.
South Australian Police this morning confirmed they had made contact with the two men.
Now their jubilant family and friends are on hand to welcome them home from a wild ride which began last Thursday.
Mr Robinson's brother, Ian, said he never had any doubt that his brother would make it back safe.
"We knew he was coming home, we never gave up, he is a survivor and there was never a doubt in my mind," Mr Robinson said.
Sons Ashley and Tim are awaiting the safe return of their father at the Bluff Boat Ramp, and were overjoyed at the news.
"We are very happy for him to be back alive and well," Ashley said.
"It has been a very up and down time, we haven't known what to think, we were especially disappointed when the search was called off, but we have always been positive.
"We always had hope and you never give up until there is proof otherwise."
The two mates left Coffin Bay, just west of Port Lincoln, in a 30-foot wooden hulled fishing boat. They were bound for Goolwa, about 300km east.
About 11pm Friday, the pair reported engine trouble to a friend and said they were going to divert to Kangaroo Island.
By Sunday, after no word from the men, authorities were alerted and a massive search was launched.
With the help of aircraft from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Air Force and Kangaroo Island and Volunteer Marine Rescue the total search area has covered more than 103,000 square kilometres.
For days police, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and members of the Royal Australian Air Force searched but no signs of the men or their boat was found.
"Given the length of time that has elapsed we are very concerned for their safety and their welfare," SA Police Superintendent Paul Bahr told 9News earlier this week.
"We know they had life jackets, we know they had flares, what we're unaware of at this stage is whether they had an EPIRB or whether the VHF radio fitted to boat was operational."
SA Police called off the search around 8pm on Wednesday night. Three hours later it is understood police made contact with Higgins, who told officers they were near Salt Creek, south-east of Adelaide
A Water Operations Units is headed to South Australia's south-east coast to help bring the men home.
Mitch Crowhurst, who had driven the two men to Coffin Bay so they could pick up the boat, was waiting at Goolwa Wharf on Thursday morning once he had heard the news.
"I'm especially glad they're still alive. I drove them out there to buy the boat to pick it up so they could bring it home and fix it up, and they're still going to get to do that," he said.
He said as more time had passed since the men were last heard from, he was losing hope, but now he could not be more excited.
"My heart was getting heavy, I was fending off the doubts that were coming into my mind, and hoping for a good outcome and we got it, so I'm thankful," he said.
"We've been praying for them and hoping for a miracle, and that miracle's come to fruition.
"It's amazing that they're still floating along now and they made it all that way. We're just so grateful."
Friend Robert Dorrough was also at Goolwa Wharf to welcome the men home.
"An absolute miracle, I couldn't believe my ears," he said. "It was just so overwhelming to get the news that they were safe and sound.
"It was so heart rendering to think we might have lost him, but now he's back again - we're so grateful.
He said Tony went to church with him occasionally, and Robert thanked God for the positive result.
We prayed for him both Sunday at the service and Monday night at the church service we had," he said.
"I was just so overwhelmed, so thankful to God."
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