RELIEF etched on to his face, this was the moment a boy was hauled to safety after becoming trapped in mud.
Tired and cold, the 14-year-old boy was left sinking in mud 20 yards from Langstone Bridge after a trip to collect fishing bait went horribly wrong.
He and two friends, all from Leigh Park, were searching for bait yesterday evening, but ventured too far from shore and ended up getting stuck.
Luckily for them they were spotted by Steve Duff, the coastguard sector manager for Portsmouth, who is understood to have been on his way home.
He alerted the fire service, police, paramedics and coastguard to come and rescue the boys.
Two fire engines from Havant and a multi-role vehicle were sent out at about 7pm last night.
By the time firefighters arrived two of the boys – aged 13 and 14 – had managed to clamber out of the mud, leaving one firmly trapped.
Lee Havey, the watch manager at Havant fire station, said: ‘They had been digging for bait apparently and got themselves stuck.
‘Fortunately for them they were spotted by Steve from the coastguard who was driving past and saw them.
‘They were in dark-coloured track suits.’
Two of the boys, who had mild hypothermia, were taken away from the shoreline and given warm fleeces so they could warm up.
It took firefighters another 15 minutes to rescue the trapped boy.
‘We managed to get a throw line to him,’ said Mr Havey.
‘He got hold of that and we pulled him out of the mud.
‘The mud was quite loose, fortunately for him.’
With a relieved look on his face, he emerged from the harbour covered in mud from top to toe.
An ambulance crew checked over him. He was unharmed, but was shivering and was given warm clothes.
Mr Havey added: ‘The boys were very cold.
‘It was blowing a gale and very wet.’
Mr Havey said it was lucky that Mr Duff spotted them before the tide started to come in.
‘There’s always potential,’ he said.
‘They were lucky.
‘They were very apologetic and did not mean to get stuck.
‘If people insist on going digging for bait, stay close to the shore and always leave someone on the shore.’
A spokeswoman for the coastguard said: ‘The boy did not require hospital and was returned home for a bath.’
A water support unit from Fareham – which includes a boat – was also sent to Langstone Bridge, but was not needed.