Sailor’s Ditty Box Returns to Antarctica – 200 Years Later


Museum trustee Alex Bulazel holds up the ditty box that traveled with Palmer to Antarctica at Deception Island on January 27, 2020. (Photo Credit: Amanda Bulazel)

DECEPTION ISLAND — When Nathaniel’s Palmer’s sloop Hero anchored at Deception Island on that fateful day in 1820 when it is thought that Palmer first saw the continent of Antarctica, a small sailor’s ditty box was along for the ride. Two hundred years later, that same box – now in the Museum’s collection – made the trip back to the very same harbor.

The trip was the idea of Museum trustee Alex Bulazel, who has traveled to Antarctica and the Arctic many times. It was Bulazel who called attention to the 200th anniversary of Palmer’s sighting of the continent.

The ditty box from Palmer’s 1820 voyage.

Bulazel, Museum president Steve White, and 12 other people with ties to Mystic Seaport Museum were part of a group of 186 passengers on the ship Le Lyrial on a cruise to Antarctica in January to visit sites connected to the Palmer bicentennial. The expedition was organized by the luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent. Glenn Gordinier, co-director of the Museum’s Munson Institute, was on board to give talks on the history of the Palmer story and Antarctica.

Palmer and a crew of four were on a sealing expedition on the 47-foot Hero. While anchored in Whalers Bay on Deception Island, Palmer went ashore and climbed a hill where he saw the continent of Antarctica for the first time on November 17, 1820. Two other expeditions led by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellinghausen and Englishman Edward Bransfield also sighted the continent earlier in the year.

The 7″ x 3″ wooden ditty box was donated to the Museum in 1950. It is ornately carved and has an inscription, “L.B. Stonington Slp. Hero.” The L.B. probably stands for Stanton L. Burdick, who was 16 at the time. Ditty boxes were carried by sailors, who would keep special items and personal remembrances in them during their time at sea.



Amtrak Offers Additional Service to Mystic

Amtrak Train

NEW YORK – Amtrak continues to prioritize upgrading the customer experience as travelers along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) will now benefit from increased weekday service on Northeast Regional trains at popular stations in Mystic, CT, and Westerly, R.I., to receive more access to the region’s major markets. The new schedule, which largely alternates trains at these stations to provide more meaningful service, will go into effect beginning Monday, March 16, 2020.

There will be four additional stops on Southbound trains and three additional stops on Northbound trains.

“By providing additional service for Mystic and Westerly, travelers and residents will reap the benefits of a more efficient travel experience,” said Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson. “The benefits will also expand beyond these two stations as it allows Amtrak to better serve populations and cities along the NEC by offering additional access to and from urban areas in Boston, New York, and Virginia.”

Weekday Southbound trains will now stop at Westerly and Mystic at the following times (new service highlighted in red):

Train Number Westerly, R.I. Mystic, CT
95 7:20 a.m. 7:30 a.m.
171 9:37 a.m.
93 10:38 a.m.
173 12:38 p.m.
137 2:56 p.m.
175 4:39 p.m.
177 6:53 p.m.
179 8:08 p.m.
65/67 11:05 p.m. 11:17 p.m.

Weekday Northbound trains will now stop at Westerly and Mystic at the following times:

Train Number Mystic, CT Westerly, R.I.
66 5:49 a.m. 6:01 a.m.
190 9:55 a.m.
170 11:21 a.m.
172 1:55 p.m.
86 3:16 p.m.
174 4:56 p.m.
176 6:40 p.m.
94 8:44 p.m.
178 10:45 p.m. 10:55 p.m.

In addition to the customer benefits and improvements to quality of travel via the expanded service, Amtrak also remains committed to continuous improvement and innovation throughout the entirety of its rail network, on its trains and at its stations. Amtrak recently announced the expansion of its popular assigned seating offering in Business Class for Northeast Regional trains, which provides a more seamless onboarding process and the option for customers to select their preferred seat. Northeast Regional trainsas part of Amtrak’s NEC fleet, are also the country’s only all-electric intercity trains, providing a more environmentally friendly way to travel as part of Amtrak’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint.

There are no changes to weekend trains at this time; Schedules are subject to change. Tickets are now on sale on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, via our ticket agents or by calling 1-800-USA RAIL.

Source: Amtrak press release.