Part of the Story of the Karl Marsters

The opening day for Pleasant Paddling was my birthday, the auspicious 30th year, and a day that turned out to be one of my more memorable days in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and it didn’t directly relate to sea kayaking. That was that day that I, Karl Marsters, became aware that another by that name had made a long voyage to look over my new venture.

That first day was spent promoting the business to tourist and to other businesses in and around Lunenburg. My family and some friends were with there to help set up the office .  We were offering half price rentals for the day. We were making local businesses aware of the fact there was a sea kayaking company offering rentals and guided tours in Lunenburg Harbour and the islands around Blue Rocks.

Pleasant Paddling’s office is a converted Ben’s Bakery truck that is set up as an office. It is a vehicle that has been to Mexico, British Colombia and back. It is an interesting vehicle to say the least and goes by the name Benny due to it’s Ben’s Bakery history. As an office, Benny is parked on the old Railway Wharf right beside The Dory Shop at the end of Bluenose Dr. on the waterfront in Lunenburg.

I had been looking forward to speaking with someone from the Dory Shop as we were essentially neighbors and they had some dories, skiffs and various other water craft on their property that looked interesting to the boat lover in me. It was well into the afternoon when I spotted someone who was walking the grounds of the Dory Shop that had the air of authority. A man was strolling there who looked like the master of the domain. I wasted no time in approaching him.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was striding toward Dan Moreland, the captain and owner of the Picton Castle which also made him the owner of the Dory Shop. The Picton Castle is a tall ship that sails out of Lunenburg. It acts as a training and trading vessel that has made many circumnavigations of our world. Mr. Moreland has been training sailors for the dangers of blue water sailing for years and is not a man known to mince words. I approached him ignorant of all this with a smile on my face not knowing this would be one of my more noteworthy encounters.

My hand was outstretched as I neared him, I was ready to speak about the my new sea kayaking company. I started with “Hi, Karl Marsters”. My hand hung out there. The man looked at me like I had two heads. “Is that your name?” He replied. This took me a little aback as that is not the response I was used to after greeting someone. So, I tried again. “Yes, my name is Karl Marsters”. He still looked at me like I had offended his sensibilities but he shook my hand as he pointed over to a small boat that was upside down beside us. “That is the Karl Marsters” he said.

He was pointing at a 16ft white fishing boat with a shallow keel. The aft of the boat was facing toward us and faded words were visible. It read-

Palmerston Island, South Pacific.

The implications of this quickly washed over me as I knew something of Palmerston Island. A few years before my grandfather had told me a story of a clan of Marsters that lived in the South Pacific. He had heard about them as a cousin visited the island years ago. It is a tiny atoll in the Cook Islands. William Marsters, an Englishman, settled on Palmerston in 1863 and populated this little atoll with 3-5 Polynesian wives (the accounts vary). Now, over 1000 Marsters think of Palmerston Island as their ancestral home regardless of where they live as they all descend from William Marsters and that small island. Since the boat came from Palmerston it didn’t need a last name on it as everyone living there was a Marsters. A simple Karl was enough.

I had also talked to some of the crew of the Picton Castle who had been on a circumnavigation and had stopped at Palmerston. They had informed me that the Picton always stopped there due to the warm reception and the great hospitality. I had even watched one episode of a TV show, Tall Ship Chronicles, which was a documentary of one of the Picton Castle’s voyages. In the only episode I had seen they had stopped at Palmerston and I was able to see these very distantly related cousins.

This boat must have come from Palmerston Island – half way around the world on the Picton Castle. This boat, with my name on it, had traveled tens of thousands of kilometers to come to rest within a rocks throw of where I set up my new kayaking business.

I was reeling. It wouldn’t have been that weird if my name was common. A John Smith boat wouldn’t have been that odd but my name is quite uncommon. I know of only one other Karl Marsters who I found through the internet. It would be safe to say there are less than ten Karl Marsters in the world and this craft was named after one of them. Adding to it being the opening day of my business and my 30th birthday it was quite surreal.

I attempted to spout out all this information to Captain Moreland who, for his part, wasn’t showing too much surprise. He told me who he was as I pointed to my family who were just a few meters away and tried to tell my little history. He listened mutely. Then he confirmed that the Picton Castle had indeed taken the fishing boat from Palmerston as it was a derelict on the beach when they came across it.

My mind was overloaded and since the reaction wasn’t overwhelming,  I couldn’t wait to tell my wife and family. Captain Moreland and I parted ways and I hurried back to Benny.


This little coincidence just goes to show the interconnectedness of our world and how small it is. Every time I tell this story, or mull it over, I am left feeling at a loss to find some meaning that isn’t there. I have told this story many times and each time I have a little hope  that the audience is going to tell me something that is going to explain the meaning or significance of it to me. This has not yet happened. All I have taken from this peculiar happenstance is that it must bode well this kayaking venture.

The Karl Marsters has sat there since with it’s hull point toward the sky. Last fall I talked to representatives from the Picton Castle about him and they thought it would be fine if I worked on Karl to get it seaworthy. This coming year I hope to put it in the weekly Hump Cup race in Lunenburg Harbour.

Pleasant Paddling - Sea Kayaking in Blue Rocks (minutes from Lunenburg), Nova Scotia - 221 The Point Rd. - - 902 541 9233