Local skippers and visiting boaties are following safety rules in Port Macquarie, despite numerous boating-related coastal drownings across NSW.
Marine Rescue Port Macquarie are seeing increased numbers of boats on the water, as skippers take advantage of time off work due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to unit commander Greg Davies.
"From the start of the year we have made 38 rescues, down from about 60 rescues which is what we usually do each year," he said.
"This is a good thing because the boating community is putting safety first, logging on and we are keeping them safe. Most rescues have been fuel or maintenance problems and there was only one boat which sunk off Lighthouse Beach earlier this year.
"Most of the rescues are of people who have left their boat in storage for a few months or years, unserviced.
"We are seeing a lot more people going out and we are averaging about 20 boats out each day. In good weather the carparks are full as boats head out to the river or at sea.
"In NSW there have been a lot of fatalities in the community and this could be because more people are using their time fishing while having time off work."
Marine Rescue recorded around 50 boats taking to the water on Saturday, July 11 and 70 on Sunday, July 12. There were only two rescues over that weekend.
The unit has also received an influx of new trainees with 42 currently undertaking training.
NSW has recorded the worst start to the season on record with five coastal drownings in the first five days, according to Surf Life Saving NSW coastal drowning statistics.
This season there have been 11 boating-related fatalities, more than 2.5 times the 10-year average of 4.1.
Surf lifesavers across NSW performed 2,499 rescues, 6,023 first-aid treatments and 192,471 preventative actions during the 2019/20 season.
"In the first five days of the 2020/21 season there were five coastal drownings. This is an horrific start to the season and the worst on record" SLSNSW chief executive Steven Pearce said.
"This calendar year has also been the worst year on record for boating-related coastal drownings with nine fatalities in just six months. This is more than double the 10-year average.
"Over the past two years we have seen a significant increase in boating-related fatalities in NSW which is very concerning.
"Tragically, many of the people who drowned recently were not wearing a lifejacket, meaning their deaths may have been prevented if they were wearing one.
"Along with Marine Rescue, we are pleading with boat owners to take more care of themselves and their passengers and ensure that everyone has access to an approved, properly fitting lifejacket. We strongly recommend always wearing one when boating."
SLSNSW recommends boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket. Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, and swim with someone else so you can look out for each other.
Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm.