Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens were among the areas targeted in a cross-agency marine safety campaign at the weekend aimed at ensuring compliance as many boaters hit the water for the first time in months.
NSW Maritime carried out its "check the decks" operation across Saturday to Monday, ensuring boats and equipment were in safe working order after winter.
The state agency's boating safety officers worked waterways across the state in partnership with the Police Marine Area Command, which was targeting compliance with drug and alcohol laws.
The Newcastle Herald hit the water with NSW Maritime on Monday as officers conducted random safety and licencing checks across Lake Macquarie.
"This is our first campaign for the boating season," NSW Maritime principal manager north Sonia McKay said on Monday.
"The campaign is 'check the decks', so what we're encouraging boaters to do is check their vessels' condition, the engine, their safety equipment, to ensure it is in good working order.
"Typically, what happens, is people don't go boating during the cold months and then once it warms up they jump in their boat and they head out, but they haven't checked things."
Ms McKay said while the campaign was about enforcing compliance, it was more about being "proactive about getting that message out to boaters" ahead of summer.
NSW Maritime conducted more than 300 checks on recreational vessels in the Hunter, resulting in nine infringement notices and 14 official cautions.
The main areas of non-compliance were not carrying, wearing or maintaining lifejackets, which initially carry fines of $250.
"The main one that we're seeing across NSW, and in the Hunter area as well, is people not servicing their lifejackets," Ms McKay said.
"There's a [carbon dioxide] cylinder in the lifejacket and we're getting many examples of where they're corroded, they may have sat in a bit of water over the last few months.
"That is the single standout issue across NSW."
In an incident on the Mid North Coast, a 38-year-old man died after being knocked overboard near Forster on Sunday morning.
The man was on a yacht bound for Sydney when he was struck by the boom of the vessel.
He was pulled from the water unconscious by the three other people on board but could not be revived.
NSW Maritime will continue to conduct safety campaigns throughout the summer as it works to reduce boating fatalities.
"With the cooperation of everyone who heads out on the water, the average number of boating fatalities in the last five years is 43 per cent lower than what it was five years ago and we want that downward trend to go even further," acting executive director Mark Hutchings said.
"Our boating safety officers are continuing to carry out regular random safety checks to ensure boats and safety equipment are up to standard across NSW waters."