by Reine Bethany
Wherever Hempstead Bay meets Jones Bay, on the southeastern edge of marshy Meadow Island, five properties sit. They are off grid and obtainable only by boat. Their existence has a advanced historical past (see breakout box).
Their occupants are men and women whose life are inseparable from Very long Island’s shores and waters. Hitching a boat journey to one bay property with its co-operator, Freeport resident Sue Lyons, normally takes a passenger to a universe very apart from the bustle of today’s Very long Island villages.
“I grew up on the water in Baldwin and lived on the South Shore my whole existence — 65 decades now,” Lyons mentioned. One particular of her brothers experienced leased a bay dwelling when he was very first married, which Lyons generally frequented.
“I have searched for a bay household on Meadow Island for at least 40 decades,” Lyons stated.
Lyons’s father, who owned a building enterprise, educated her and her siblings in all the needed h2o-connected competencies — “tides, channels, navigation, fishing, clamming, erosion,” Lyons said, as she piloted her center-console outboard boat into a stiff wind. The metal-grey waves appeared small, but their recurrent jolts versus the boat base produced the journey reminiscent of driving the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in a rattletrap truck.
Unfazed, Lyons stood at the helm and guided her vessel toward Meadow Island. Her co-operator, Tommy Famiglietti, arrived out on their pier to assist her moor the boat.
Famiglietti and Lyons have been meeting at their bay home on this working day since Extended Island Traditions, a historic organization, had scheduled a Freeport bay residence tour, and Lyons and Famigilietti had agreed to be docents for their two-tale, mint-inexperienced construction.
Inside of their kitchen, Lyons and Famiglietti talked about the circuitous method by which they had develop into bay household homeowners. Bay homes normally are inherited or passed from a longtime proprietor to a dependable friend.
“It started out with Helmut Tsogl,” Lyons stated, hunting out the kitchen doorway at the buff-colored beach front, the lengthy environmentally friendly marsh grasses and the rugged waves. For fifty percent a century, she defined, Tsogl had owned a bay household on the location the place the new dwelling now stands. Then came Hurricane Sandy.
“The day just before Hurricane Sandy hit, I was out on the bay, and there were being 11 bay homes on Meadow Island,” Lyons mentioned. “I took a journey out the day right after Sandy, and there have been five remaining. … Helmut’s bayhouse had floated absent and was wrecked.”
Tsogl still owned the land, but could not reconstruct the residence. In 2016, a mutual mate released him to Lyons, whose late husband, Gary Williams, owned the Baldwin Harbor Boat Property and 55 Hudson Marina. Lyons had the understanding and implies to style and design and full a bay house.
Tsogl’s side of the partnership was the land. Lyons designed the residence, and she brought Famiglietti into the partnership in 2017. “We’re the two bay rats,” she said. Famiglietti owns Baldwin Boat Haulers. When Tsogl died in 2020, possession of the residence handed to the remaining two companions.
As Famiglietti explained to the tour group, he and Lyons went to unusual lengths to make the property steadfast in opposition to foreseeable future storms. Bay homes are typically elevated 4 to 8 toes on four-by-4 posts of dealt with wood, leaving a crawl space underneath the dwelling. Lyons and Famigliett, even so, dug out a basis with a 10-foot clearance below the home, and then installed 25 12-inch-diameter pilings to which they secured the house’s foundation, plus 20 much more pilings underneath the pier.
“These are 35-foot posts,” instructed Famiglietti to the tour team. “Each 1 is buried 18 ft into the sand.” 4-inch ropes loop between the deck and dock pilings as properly as between pilings underneath the dwelling.
“It was a labor of like, and definitely challenging perform,” Lyons explained. “We designed her solid, and we hope she survives anything that Mother Character brings us.”
Proudly owning a bay household is not uncomplicated. Almost everything that Lyons and Famiglietti experienced learned from a life span on the South Shore has been wanted to construct and retain it. Their property complies with federal, condition, and area environmental polices and building codes.
“I really don’t like the erosion that is continually using our sand and marshes,” Lyons stated, “and we do what we can to preserve the land.”
The progression from dreaming about a bay dwelling to possessing one particular was organic to Lyons’s enthusiasm for her South Shore lifetime.
“I adore the ever-existing breezes. I enjoy sleeping out there and watching the sunrises and sunsets,” Lyons stated. “I adore the marshes and their at any time-shifting hues. I love that I can enjoy the seasons improve the colour of the marsh grass, and that I can almost determine out the date by just hunting at the colour of the grass. I guess I appreciate how a lot I learn from our tides, weather conditions, wildlife.”