The history of the development of the inlet area in Point Pleasant Beach is actually a young one. When John Kennell Sr. moved here from Passaic in the late 1920's, there were not many people around. The inlet was all gentle sand dunes and weeds. At that time, "Jack" worked as an electrician. The young man built a house for himself in Point Pleasant. While working on a job back in Passaic, he cut his finger and had to go to the emergency room of a hospital. The nurse who treated him, Myrtle, took care of him so well that he married her in 1931. During the depression, the young couple was more fortunate than many others, even though work was scarce. Myrtle had a position as an RN at Paul Kimball Hospital. And Jack made his first in a series of timely investments in 1932, when he bought the waterfront property that is now the "south dock" of Ken's Landing, located just on the south side of the Broadway Avenue bridge.
Jack always liked boats, so he decided to combine pleasure with a little bit of business, and purchased a charter boat. He rented slips to other charter boats, and he named his dock Ken's Landing. Now, you may ask, why he named it Ken's Landing if his name was Jack? Well, his son, Captain Jack Kennell, believes there was another Jack's Landing around at the time, so to avoid confusion, the elder Jack took the first three letters of his last name, Kennell, to coin the present name of the dock. A later coincidence in the family history proved this to have been a very apt choice of names.
The Kennel's had two children, John "Jack Jr.", and Norma. Jack's first boat, named after his sister, was named the Ruth. His second boat was named after his daughter, it was called the Norma-E, being the first initial of her middle name. He continued to name each boat after his daughter, but all the subsequent boats were named Norma-K (for Kennell) rather than Norma-E. Again, this turned out to be a prophetic switch of names, as the little girl grew up and married a man named Kenneth Keller. Not only was the name, Norma-K, still appropriate, but Ken became the Captain of the Norma-K, Norma-K II, and the later, larger Norma-K III, so that even the name of Ken's Landing became doubly well suited. Of course, this leads some people to the mistaking conclusion that Ken Keller, started Ken's Landing.
During the War, the property on the North Side of Broadway, owned by Mr. Johnson, was temporarily confiscated by the government and used as additional barracks for the Coast Guard. By this time, it was becoming evident to Jack Sr. that charter boats were getting bigger and higher, and that his business on the south side of the bridge would be limited to small vessels that could clear the little Broadway Bridge. He saw his opportunity to keep up with the change of times, when the government contract on the Johnson property expired. In 1945 Johnson put the North Side dock up for sale and arriving at Johnson's office ten minutes before the contract came due, Jack shook hands with Johnson and a gentlemen's agreement was reached and the property was purchased. Not ten minutes after that agreement another buyer was knocking at the door only to be told the property was no longer available. Within that ten minutes Ken's Landing came to be.
The original or "the little" Norma-K was purchased in 1957 and was the first boat in the Norma-K Fleet to sail as an "open party boat." The 45 footer was Captained by a young 21 year old man named Ken Keller. This boat signified the beginning of the party boat fishing that we now know today at Ken's Landing. Once Jack realized that the future was in larger, faster boats he went searching for a faster, brand new boat. The second boat was purchased in 1957. The second boat was called the Miss Point Pleasant II, it was a 70 ft. Stellman Boat. In 1964, Jack had a larger, 75' boat built in Atlantic City New Jersey, and it was named the Norma-K II. In 1975, the family sold the "little" Norma-K and purchased the fleet's flagship. A 95' Gulf Craft built in Louisiana called the Norma-K III. The Norma-K III is Captained to this day by the experienced Ken Keller. If you are wondering where the original Miss Point Pleasant went, it is actually the "little" Norma-K. The Miss Point Pleasant which sailed 1/2 Day at the time, (or the 45' "little" Norma-K as its name was changed to about 10 months later) was docked right next to the Miss Point Pleasant II which sailed ALL DAY. The name change came about due to the two boats having different schedules and the same name docked next to each other. A blast from the past, 1/2 day trips cost $3.50 and all day trips were $5.00 in 1957.