The Coastguard Federation says boaties need to take better communication equipment with them on the water and stop relying on cellphones.
Chief executive Bruce Reid says there has been an 8% increase in boat trips this holiday period, compared with last year. There was an increase of almost 15% in call-outs during December.
Mr Reid says a lot of incidents could be avoided or attended faster if people ensured they had flares or a marine radio on board.
He says cellphone coverage at sea is unreliable and should be considered only as a back-up.