Recreational boating is widely popular in the Bay of Plenty yet only around 5 per cent of boaties have a coastguard membership.

According to Water Safety Bay of Plenty, 29 per cent of preventable drownings in the Bay of Plenty in the past 10 years involved recreational boating.

They are encouraging boaties to become members of coastguard and also enrol in a Coastguard Boating Education course.

Regional Water Safety Strategy Manager Dave White said Coastguard Boating Education had some fantastic courses for not only beginners, but also experienced skippers.

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"A lot of boaties don't realise you can also complete these short courses online and, when it comes to staying safe on the water, they're well worth the investment."

The message comes amidst increasing boat and jetski sales in the Bay of Plenty – highlighting the importance of boating and water safety knowledge.

"With more boats on the water, there's more risk. Coastguard Boating Education courses and Coastguard memberships are a small price to pay to keep you and your family safe while you're out on the water," White said.

More information about the Coastguard Boating Education courses are at www.boatingeducation.org.nz and Coastguard NZ memberships at www.coastguard.nz