Marine Parade's a bittersweet stretch of turf and surf.

Sweet because it's beautiful, bitter because it's also a chancy seductress.

Its surf rises, dumps, then retreats harder than it advances. Locals know it's a "look don't touch" beach - but do visitors? I sometimes wonder whether we need to adopt a more bather-beware stance.

A UK-born colleague of mine told me his young family swam in said waters when they first arrived in the Bay, completely oblivious to the danger.

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On Tuesday scores of people witnessed the risk and outcome first-hand as the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter retrieved the body of a man who'd drowned in front of his wife just off the parade about 3pm.

It's understood his wife screamed for help as he struggled to stay afloat in heavy swells.

This latest tragedy, albeit off-season, raises the prospect of introducing throwable lifebuoys on Marine Parade.

After all, an Ocean Spa lifeguard told this newspaper her first act at this week's emergency was to find a length of rope to sling to the stricken swimmer.

The advent of defibrillators in our CBDs suggests we're au fait with the notion of catering for emergency medical events - despite their rarity.

One would think the snags of introducing the buoys - vandalism and cost - are manageable, not to mention justified if a life is saved as a result.

Wellington's breezy waterfront (ie, nowhere near as seductive as our own parade) apparently has 12 throwable rings.

Thus, Napier's in the unique position of boasting a perilous body of water without a lifeline.