Lake Macquarie's Marine Rescue commander says 25-knot winds were blowing on Sunday afternoon, when a man was knocked overboard from a yacht and subsequently died.
Malcolm Druce was on the rescue vessel that pulled the 54-year-old from the water when the Westpac Rescue Helicopter spotted the man just after 4pm following a large-scale emergency search.
Mr Druce said his crew was on its way to another job - a yacht grounded off Spectacle Island - when the man-overboard call came in.
He said his crew was searching the waters off Wangi Point within five minutes.
It is understood a swinging boom knocked the man from the yacht.
Mr Druce said there were 25-knot winds coming from the south at Lake Macquarie on Sunday afternoon in "a fairly decent blow", but there was "a reasonable number of boats out".
His crew quickly found the vessel and spoke with a woman who was still on board.
"We found a person in a yacht in a very distressed state," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"When we arrived at the yacht, the sails were down.
"Obviously the person was in extreme distress but had managed to stop the forward progress of the yacht."
Members of the public in their boats helped with the search.
Mr Druce's rescue vessel retrieved the man and his crew began CPR before another private boat brought police onto the water and they took over with the revival effort.
Paramedics also treated the man, but he died at the scene.
Police said they would prepare a report for the coroner.
The yacht was put in possession of the man's next of kin - police did not consider the man's death suspicious, so investigators did not take the vessel for examination.
The Newcastle Herald understands the yacht remained in the water at Lake Macquarie on Monday.
Mr Druce told the Newcastle Herald in recent days there had been a spike in calls for help on the water at Lake Macquarie since the beginning of this year.
The Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that the spike in call-outs to crews from Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens has ranged from boats that had run out of fuel to vessels stuck on rocks or sinking.
At Lake Macquarie alone, Marine Rescue has been called to 109 jobs since the beginning of 2021 - a tally MrMalcolm Druce estimates is about 10 to 15 per cent up on the same period in a typical year.
Across those incidents, he said, there have been about 230 people aboard vessels.
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