SAN MATEO COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Menlo Park Fire Department say there’s been a sharp spike in the number of mud rescues on the San Francisco Bay.
The slough near Redwood City is a nature lover’s playground with miles of snaking waterways. If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll get stuck in a low tide. Inexperienced boaters often try to walk out on the mud.
“Some places here, it’s like quicksand,” said Frank Fraone with the Menlo Park Fire Department. “They step out in the mud, they get sucked right in. Once they get sucked in, many times they can’t get themselves out.”
For rescues, firefighters use airboats with a V8 powered turbine and flat smooth bottom that can glide over mud. And even then it’s not an easy rescue.
In a normal year, the fire department has 12 to 15 rescues. But in January alone, they reported eight rescues.
The fire department says boaters are ill-equipped and don’t know the basics, like to stay out of the mud.
Firefighters advise if you have to walk on the mud, and you get stuck, there is one last resort technique. First, try not to sink any lower than your knees. Second, sit down and use your arms then pull your legs out one at a time. The idea is to increase the surface area on the mud.
The fire department says detailed maps and tidal charts are also available, and that boaters should always carry a cell phone and a dedicated GPS unit.