Each morning, Pat Presti pours herself a cup of coffee and heads for the sunroom of her Bayport home. There, she scans the paper, maybe watches a movie on her iPad or talks to her turtle, Chance, parked in a fish tank by her side. Often, she simply stares out at the changing beauty of the Great South Bay that stretches from horizon to horizon like a giant-screen television.
Over nearly 40 years she has seen it all, from surfaces that are mirror smooth to churning landscapes conjured up by angry sea gods. To live here is to live a life aquatic. Except on land.
"It's always beautiful, and it's never the same," says the 80-year-old owner, who would like to stay in her rambling home, but says it is simply too much to take care of these days, so she is selling. The asking price is $3.8 million. "I get up every morning and say, Thank God I have the eyesight to see this."
There are few homes on Long Island as much a part of the seascape as this 12-room, Bayport Contemporary. Planted on a jutting section of land with a boat channel on one side -- Homans Creek -- and the bay on the other, there is hardly a room without a water view, not counting the wine cellar.
The home was built in 1975 and comes with a scarce commodity on Long Island -- an attached boathouse capable of housing a 50-foot vessel, plus dock slips for 10 boats.
"Boathouses are, in fact, a rarity in the Town of Islip," says town spokeswoman Patricia Kaloski. This was confirmed by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation official, where a representative adds they are not prohibited.
Presti's life aquatic began when her first husband, Vincent, went to a boat show.
"He bought a boat and fell in love with the water," she says. "It became an obsession with him."
Tired of the time it took to haul it to the water, Presti says he decided to buy the 3.10-acre Bayport property for immediate access to the sea (an acre and a half the property is under water).
The entire project took 10 years, mostly because of the time-consuming process of getting approvals from local, state and federal agencies, she says. At one point, construction was halted when bones were uncovered on the lot, a precaution taken in case the area was a Native American burial ground.
Presti was dubious, for good reason.
"They turned out to be cow bones," she says.
The owner personally designed the house with the idea of making the outdoors visible from every spot in the house. In addition to the sunroom, it has an upstairs atrium, a guest room with a round, glass-domed ceiling and an outside pool shielded from the wind by glass panels. Artifacts from or about the sea are sprinkled throughout the house -- everything from paintings of sea life to collected shells to fishing tackle.
She and her husband owned a sand and gravel mining business, and entertaining clients was a large part of their life -- hence the home's wine cellar and large bar and lounge. The property also has a separate cottage and a floating house barge that serves as a guesthouse.
Presti says she didn't spend as much time in residence as she liked in those early years. That's because her husband kept them cruising for six months at a time on a 48-foot yacht complete with living quarters, a full galley and satellite communications (which they used to keep in contact with their business). When they returned home, they worked furiously for several months, then returned to life on the sea, often in the Caribbean, for another six months. At times, it seemed too much water for her, she says. Then her husband died of an illness at the age of 59.
"He enjoyed life on the water, and I'm glad we did it because he didn't live long enough to see retirement," she says.
Her second husband, Kenneth Dallman, also enjoyed boating, but kept their outings more local. He died of heart disease after 14 years of marriage.
Presti says she hopes to resettle in a smaller home somewhere on Long Island with, of course, a water view. She enjoys the seasons and the weather that each brings. She stayed put during superstorm Sandy, for instance, although she had second thoughts when she saw a wave of water the size of a warehouse heading toward the home. In the end, the storm left only a bit of water in the basement and some decking damage, she says.
"A storm doesn't bother me," she says.
ASKING PRICE: $3.8 million
LISTING HISTORY: On the market for four months
WHAT'S FOR SALE: This is a Contemporary home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms and a half bath. It has a gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, a den and family room, an all-season sunroom, full bar, wine cellar, a master bedroom, a third-floor atrium with deck access, a saltwater swimming pool, four fireplaces, a patio, three-car garage, a first-floor media room and a basement. The property includes a two-story cottage, plus a floating house barge that serves as a guesthouse, an attached boathouse that can hold a 50-foot boat, plus 10 boat slips, along with 1,000 feet of water frontage and dock rights.
LISTING AGENT: John and Toby Williams, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-758-2552