Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue share tips for staying safe on the water

Recent deaths in waters around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie has sparked a safety warning from one of the area's Marine Rescue units.

Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue Unit commander Mal Wardrop said the death of a fisherman swept off rocks at Timber Beach on July 7 and three people in a tragic catamaran capsize off Stockton Beach on July 11 highlighted the "sad side of what we do" but added that "getting people home" is the focus of its volunteers.

"That's why we join," he said. "We want to be helping people get home safe. When we do that, that makes our day. When we have the other side of it, that's not good at all."

The Lake Macquarie volunteer Marine Rescue unit was involved in the search for a man, believed to be aged 62, who is understood to have fallen from rocks while fishing south of Caves Beach earlier in July.

The man's body was found by a member of the public about 100 metres off shore, near Wybung Head, on July 11, the same day three people died and two were rescued from the water off Stockton Beach after a 11.7-metre catamaran flipped in 30-knot winds and a 2m swell.

A married couple, both aged 78, from from Sydney and a 67-year-old man from the Central Coast died.

The couple's son, aged 50, and granddaughter, 16, were pulled from the boat by volunteers and treated for hypothermia at John Hunter Hunter Hospital.

Mr Wardrop said reading and understanding the weather conditions through the Bureau of Meteorology website or app was one of the most important things anyone could do before heading out near or on the water, along with wearing a life jacket, having a working emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and logging on and off with Marine Rescue.

"The wind and sea are so unpredictable," he said. "You can't go out in bad conditions. It's not worth your life."

In the first half of 2019, Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue Unit made 8537 radio calls from its Swansea Heads radio base, 1867 boaties had logged on with the base and 202 calls were responded to by crews at its Pelican base.

An information night will be held at the Pelican base from 7pm on July 24. All are welcome to attend, but are asked to phone and register their attendance to the base on (02) 4971 3498.

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