"I feel good. I feel like I should drive the boat," he said.
We caught up with him as he and his mom headed off on their pre-planned vacation. Paul is very lucky to be here after a near death experience on his own, much smaller boat.
"I was going down, going down, boat sinking. That was it. The boat turned over. I'm on the boat, hanging on to the boat. The lights went off on the boat," Salentino said.
Just before dusk Sunday, Paul and a friend set off on their clam boat from the East Islip Marina, across a foggy Great South Bay. But when their boat capsized in the choppy water, they were forced to swim for survival, winding up on a deserted spit of land, near Captree Island. With their phones lost in the bay, they had no way to call for help.
"When it was twelve o'clock at night, I said, 'Where is this? I gotta do something,'" he explained.
But his mom, Mary Buddenhagen, started to worry and at midnight, she drove to the marina. That's when she knew something was wrong.
"When I saw his car and trailer with no boat on it, I thought, 'Oh my God, he's still out there,'" she said.
She called 911, and at daybreak Suffolk Marine officers started their search. They eventually smelled smoke from the fire Paul had managed to set for warmth.
After 12 hours, he and his buddy were cold and hungry, but alive and thankful for Paul's worried mom, who had the presence of mind to raise an alarm, before it was too late.
"I felt in my heart that she was going to do something because I know the way she is," Salentino said.
"That's your child. You got to love them, care for them, take care of them no matter how old they are," she said.