• close family • small boat • big world •

The Smell of Brimstone

April 4, 2015

by Cash
At anchor, the lagoon, St. Martin

To seaward on the left is a cliff hundreds of feet above waves pounding on the rocks below.  To the right is a small hole that's just big enough to crawl through.  Once you get in, the smell of sulfur is assaults your nostrils, and you can't see anything.  The air is 15 degrees warmer than it was outside.  You find it hard to believe that anyone could work in here.

The abandoned sulfur mine was one of the coolest places we visited on Saba.  The mine was started in 1875 and was closed in 1915 because it was too hard to make money.  Like most places on Saba, the mine is right next to a high cliff, and it must have been much work just to transport the sulfur down the ocean.

In December of 2006, a man named Joel Gove was reported missing after hiking the trail that leads to the mine.  Saban authorities never found his body.  A year later, three hikers got lost in the mine.  They wandered around for half an hour with only a key-chain flashlight, inhaling sulfur fumes.  They came across
the body of Joel.  They managed to get out of the mine and report the body, but they came very close to sharing the fate of Joel.  We were told by one of our cab drivers that his body had been eaten by rats. Read the news article about this here.

The gate blocking the
lethallyconfusing parts

Since then, the Sabans have installed a gate blocking the confusing parts of the mine, but there are passages that are still open.  Actually, the whole mine is officially off limits, but going in is not particularly discouraged. An official told us that  - despite the signs - it was OK to go in a look around.

Below are more pictures and also a video of the inside of the mine. You will see some other people in the video. These were some great people we made friends with from a wooden boat called Seque that they sailed here from Bermuda. The only source of light was the flash on my phone. For the most realistic viewing experience, close your shades, turn off all your lights, put some rotten eggs near you, and crank your heater up to 90° F.

There was still sulfur on the walls

And sulfur on our hands when we emerged