Portsmouth Lifeboat station was alerted to two adults and a child stranded on mud flats after an evening kayaking trip in Langstone harbour on Wednesday evening (31st May 2017)
Unable to reach them by Lifeboat, volunteer crew waded through the sticky mud to reach the stranded family. Finding that the child was quickly becoming cold, they used the kayaks as sleds to manually haul the family to the shore and a waiting coastguard unit. The family escaped injury.
RNLI spokesman Aaron Gent said: ‘A party of four had been out kayaking in the harbour when they were caught out by the tide.
‘A mother and child aged around nine were in one kayak, her brother was in another and a friend was in a third.
‘The sea receded and left them on a mudbank unable to move. It was quite late and the child was getting cold. It must have been quite distressing for them.
‘The woman’s brother managed to wade ashore – quite a task because the mud is very sticky – and walked into the lifeboat station.
‘Thankfully Wednesday night is a training night, so we had staff there. They walked out and could see the people on the mudbank through binoculars.
The UK Coastguard has issued the following advice about the dangers of mud and quicksand following the incident.
It is as follows:
If you become stuck in mud our advice is always the same ‘Stay calm, try and spread your weight as much as possible and avoid moving.
Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Anybody trapped should also discourage other well-meaning members of the public from attempting to rescue them because without the proper equipment they could become stuck too.’
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that a significant part of the UK coastline could be categorised as soft ground, mainly mud or quicksand.
In either case it means that the foreshore is low lying, open to the elements, tidal and not accessible to unaided conventional vehicles.
The UK Coastguard uses the generic term ‘mud rescue’ to cover mud, quicksand and any other substance on the shorelines from which a casualty needs rescuing.
Coastguard specific techniques and practices are designed to cope with mud, sand and quicksand.
Unlike mud, quicksand is not obvious to the eye and there is generally little or no warning of the transition from firm sand to quicksand.
Pockets of quicksand are always on the move and will be different positions with every successive tide.
People can find themselves in soft ground either when the surface is so soft that they simply sink to a point where movement becomes impossible, or they break through a layer of relatively firm mud into a soft bubble described above.
Invariably, with quicksand there is generally little or no warning of transition from firm sand to quicksand.
People can also require rescue as a result of exhaustion while trying to wade through soft ground for all they may not be trapped. In all cases, the casualty may be at risk from incoming tide.
The effect in both cases is that when the person tries to pull their legs free they create a vacuum underneath their feet and around the leg which prevents escape and further movement can make the situation worse.
One immediate measure that can be taken to prevent the casualty sinking further is to sit on the surface of the mud/quicksand, thus spreading the load and may reduce further risk to injured casualties.