Polish novelist Joseph Conrad once wrote "the sea has never been friendly to man - at most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness." It's an apt line for the rescue drama that played out off Marine Parade on Sunday about 5pm.
This has always been a curmudgeonly piece of coast. Even as a lad I remember being told this was a "look but don't touch" beach. A tough ask for a kid.
As Conrad theorised, 12-year-old Joshua McQuoid couldn't resist putting a toe in Hawke Bay before a freak wave levelled him.
To me, it was both uncanny and immensely satisfying that the rescue was front-footed by German tourist Julian Mantoan. Why? Well, because of a incident that sparked a flurry of terse letters to the editor in 2011.
In December of that year, a German tourist in his 20s was winched off the side of a cliff face into a rescue helicopter near Clifton after deciding to take a shortcut down a bluff during a walk to Cape Kidnappers.
Letter writers were incensed, demanding the foreigner reimburse New Zealand rescue services for his stupidity.
Some would call Sunday's rescue karma. I'd call it a win for universal humanity - something those letter writers in 2011 were short on. Anyone embracing the elements is prone to Conrad's human restlessness, and the risks and folly thereof.
In the newsroom yesterday I fielded a call from a chap at a Sydney radio station asking for further details on the "human rescue chain".
He was talking about the chain of kids, adults, police, civilians, locals and foreigners that ended up plucking Joshua from the waves.
An unforgettable moment of unity caught on camera. Surely a contender for Hawke's Bay's most enduring image of 2013.