Nfld. & Labrador

Family of renowned fisherman who died donates boat to ocean cleanup group

Lindsay Petten died while scuba diving in December 2019, but his son has made a donation to help an initiative that gets trash out of the waters surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador.

'I gave the guy a big hug and almost cried,' said Shawn Bath

Shawn Bath stands next to his new boat, a donation he never expected. (Shawn Bath/Facebook)

The family of a experienced diver and fisherman who died late last year is paying homage to his honour and donating a boat to a fellow diver who has made it his mission to clean up harbours and shorelines. 

Shortly before Christmas, Lindsay Petten died while scuba diving with his son. Petten lost consciousness and could not be revived. He was 46.

His death sent shockwaves through the community. Petten was the owner of the Nautical Legend, one of roughly 70 enterprises based in Port de Grave, and son of another fishing icon, Ches Petten.

Shawn Bath is also an avid ocean enthusiast. He has spent the last two years diving and pulling up whatever trash he finds sitting on the ocean floor, via his non-profit group Clean Harbour Initiative.

Cans, tires, old fishing nets, whatever Bath could find would ultimately end up in the dump instead of in the Atlantic Ocean.

About a year ago Bath and his team realized that they should invest in a boat to make their lives a little easier.

"At that time we couldn't really afford a boat, we were just starting out. So we kind of just gave up on it," Bath said.

Port de Grave fisherman Lindsay Petten, pictured here the summer of 2018, died while scuba diving in Conception Bay North. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Enter the Petten family. 

Coincidentally, a year before Petten died, Bath had inquired about one of his boats. He spoke briefly with Nick Petten, Lindsay's son, and was told the vessel wasn't for sale, but that the family would talk about it.

'It's beyond incredible'

Bath said, awhile after Lindsay Petten's death, he received a call from Nick Petten offering up some equipment to donate to Bath's cause.

"After what Nick went through, the ordeal he went through, I just assumed when he said gear, it was some diving gear belonged to his dad or something he wanted to donate," Bath said.

"So I was more than happy to take that donation ... whatever he had."

Bath has pulled up a myriad of items along the ocean floor and shores. (Shawn Bath/Facebook)

But it was more than just diving gear.

When the two men met up in Port de Grave, Petten said, "'OK, well what do you have for me?' [Nick] pointed at the boat and said, 'well what about that boat?'" 

Bath said he was at a loss for words. The boat donation would save him and Clean Harbours Initiative about $30,000, he said.

"I gave the guy a big hug and almost cried," said Bath.

"It's beyond incredible. I didn't know these people really well up until this happened ... everybody I talk to about Nick, Lindsay and his family, everyone says the same thing. They're just absolutely beautiful people."

Bath said that by spring the boat will be fitted to his needs and will be the operating base for a team of divers he's putting in place. 

"We'll never run out of trash, I can guarantee you that," Bath said.

"There's enough trash on the bottom to keep 100 divers going in this province for years to come."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Todd O'Brien