Two men were winched to safety tonight after their boat capsized in a remote corner of the Top End.

Maritime safety authorities dispatched the CareFlight Top End rescue helicopter to a small tributary of the Fitzmaurice River, about 300km south-west of Darwin,  late this afternoon after a distress beacon was activated.

The men, both locals from the Port Keats area, had scrambled to shore after their boat was caught on a rock by the turning tide and overturned.

They were trapped beneath escarpments on both sides and a difficult helicopter winch rescue was the only practical option when CareFlight reached the scene after dark.

The men had managed to light a fire and place torches as well as establish radio communications.

After directing the men to an accessible high point, the CareFlight crew used night vision goggles to carefully winch both men to safety using a rescue basket.

They were then flown back to Darwin.