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Boating experts a boon to local rescuers
Glynn County Police Capt. Jay Wiggins says he is thankful for the wealth of maritime knowledge in the community.

It's been a godsend and on more than one occasion.

One of the most recent instances of being able to reach out to local resources was Oct. 30, when police responded to a report of a lost kayaker near Village Creek Landing. The kayaker had gone out for an afternoon paddle but was waylaid by strong winds and became trapped in the marsh.

Instead of waiting for state and local officials to bring boats up the winding tidal creeks, Wiggins enlisted the help of Michael Gowan, co-owner of SouthEast Adventure Outfitters, to lend some knowledge -- and a boat.

"We have so many local knowledgeable experts on the coast, and we really benefit greatly from them. Between the SouthEast Adventure guys, Sea Island -- people always have boats in the water there -- and the bar pilots," Wiggins said.

"There's just a lot of folks in this community that work out on the water every day and can notice when things are unusual or can spot when someone's in trouble."

In the Oct. 30 rescue, Gowan was able to identify some landmarks the kayaker gave police, determine where he was in the tidal creek and take police straight to him by boat.

"That could have easily turned into a bad situation, but Michael was able to take us out there as a joint effort and bring him in," Wiggins said.

Gowan said he was glad to help.

"We picked him up. There was no getting back in with the strong winds. With how cold it was and the wind, it could have gone a lot worse," Gowan said.

Water safety and speedy rescue are important issues in the Golden Isles, Gowan said. That's why he and others in the community try to lend rescue officials aid when they need it and when they can.

"From our perspective, 20 to 30 percent of the county is marsh and water. We like to share our knowledge of the marsh and creeks to be a resource for them," Gowan said. "The main thing for us is those guys are out there doing it every day. We just want to help when we can."

Wiggins said their assistance is invaluable.

"I can pick up the phone at any given time, and there's somebody who has a boat on the water who can help or point us in the right direction," Wiggins said.

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