A surge of boaters on South Coast waterways has Marine Rescue NSW volunteers on alert.
Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell has urged Australia Day weekend boaters to stay safe on the water and the roads, as traffic builds from the Illawarra to the Victorian border.
"It's already been a busy start to the year and our volunteers are well prepared for a huge influx of boaters on the water from sunrise today through to sunset on Australia Day," he said.
"Our teams on the South Coast have launched 146 rescue missions, including 72 in response to life-endangering emergencies since the start of summer. They have returned 342 people, including 116 children, safely to shore.
"The forecast is for days of hot, fine weather and many people are no doubt taking Monday off to enjoy a four-day weekend for Australia Day. We know boaters will be flocking to the spectacular South Coast one last time before the return to school and work next week."
Having a great time and, more importantly, getting home safely is the message.
"It's vital to make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket and that you Log On with Marine Rescue NSW on VHF Channel 16 or the free Marine Rescue App," he said.
"This free service gives you the peace of mind of knowing our volunteers are watching out for your safe return and that if you don't Log Off as planned, they will start searching for you."
Deputy Commissioner Barrell said it was concerning that many of the rescue missions launched over summer could have been avoided if boaters had taken simple safety precautions.
"More than half of the rescue operations in this region in December and January have been in response to boats out of fuel, with flat batteries or engine failure," he said.
"These can easily be prevented by checking your engine and battery are in good condition and that your fuel tank is full before heading out."
He said MRNSW crews often were called to help boaters who had misjudged weather and sea conditions.
"Check weather and sea conditions before heading out and regularly throughout the day, as conditions can change quickly. You can get up-to-date forecasts from your local Marine Rescue base by calling on VHF Channel 16 at any time."