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9916: The Dauphin Plantation: Sulfur Fumes, Blackened Silver and , Happy Tourists (fwd)

From: Perdue and Persinos <vtandwi@erols.com>

The Dauphin Plantation was, at one time, an important producer of sisal

After fiber was removed from sisal leaves by the decorticator, the waste
("bagasse"), was flushed into Fort Liberty Bay where it  rotted and
produced a strong odor of sulfur. This waste included fibers too short
to be useful, the epidermal layer of the leaves and the parenchymatous
leaf cells that had surround the fibers in the leaves.

The following anecdote is from Robert L. Pettigrew, Jr., son of the
first manager of the Dauphin Plantation:

"Bagasse was a part of our life on the Plantation.  As it decayed, or
biodegraded, out in the bay it gave off a strong sulfur odor which, when
the wind was just right, could turn newly polished silverware black
overnight.  I, as a kid, collected stamps and many of the color dyes
were affected which meant I had to put them right away in tightly closed
albums or wrap them in cellophane as protection from the air.

"You may be interested in a story my father told me which I will try to
recall this half century later.

"One of the small island freighters  that loaded sisal periodically at
Phaeton was the "Martinique".  I don't recall the registry - possibly
Dutch - but I do recall Captain Castro (who I believe was Portuguese)
because he was a close friend of my father.  The ship, 3000 tons or so,
did not officially carry passengers but there were always 5 or 6 people
on board - school teachers, intellectual types, adventuresome tourists -
classed as super cargo or excess freight.

"On one of the stops, Castro told my father that the passengers always
debarked at the ports of call but never at Phaeton because of the sulfur
odor.  It was somewhat of a  problem for him because they were
constantly complaining of the discomfort during  those days in port.  My
father suggested that he tell his passengers on the next trip that the
odor came from sulfur springs located at an inaccessible area in the
mountains.- springs which were reported to have   effected remarkable
cures among the natives.  From then on, Castro's passengers couldn't
wait to go ashore.  They never saw the springs but they never
complained.  And they all breathed deeply while ashore and they returned
to the ship happy and rejuvenated."

Bob Perdue