THE PACIFIC OCEAN, 26th April – 10th May (including 2xMay4th when we crossed the International Date Line) 2018
Well hello there everyone. Gee, I don’t know where to start, I never was asked to write a blog post for anyone before. I guess I better introduce myself to y’all out there reading this. My name is Connor and I’m a clown. I’m from Belgium really, although like most of my kind I was made in China, and I have an Irish name, but for some odd reason when I talk it is with a slight American accent, and a bit of an attitude. You might wanna read this with that in mind. Oh, and I’m a cuddly toy.
Chris and Dea have asked me to write this blog about our cruise across the Pacific Ocean. Maybe they got a bit bored writing themselves, I don’t know, but I know why it was me that they asked to write instead, as I was a real celebrity onboard this cruise. But we’ll get to that, don’t you worry.
The cruise ship was absolutely the biggest boat I have ever seen, and it was so full of old people in clean clothes, and none of them didn’t smell so bad like Chris and Dea. I never went on a cruise ship before. Most of the other cuddly toys went on one once, but they said that it wasn’t that good. They were all promised that they’d get to go in their own boat and sail around in the swimming pool, but they never got to do that in the end, ‘cos Dea’s eye got all poorly and she had to leave and go home to get better. Mr Plopples the platypus was the most upset about that. He was upset because Dea got sick, of course, but mostly it was ‘cos he was gonna be the captain of the ship ‘cos he’s got lots of experience with sailing boats and has lots of tales from his time on the seven seas. But Chris and Dea said maybe we might get to sail a boat in the swimming pool this time, and all the cuddly toys got pretty excited about that! Except for Wilma the wombat, she wasn’t bothered at all.
We had a really nice room on the ship. It was a bit like being in a Chinese hotel again, only it was rocking up and down all the time and the view out the window was of the sea, not of China. The ship stopped a few times on the first few days at Japanese towns and then at a really cold place in Russia that was covered in snow. Me and the other cuddly toys stayed on the boat those days so I can’t really tell you what happened, but Dea is gonna add in some photos so y’all can see what was going on. And when Chris and Dea got back from Russia they had a piece of scrap metal with them that they said was gonna make the keel for a boat so that we cuddly toys could go sailing in the swimming pool, and we were all pretty happy about that (except for Wilma, who, like I already told you, didn’t care less).
Then there was one whole week at sea without any stopping, and Chris and Dea did lots of interesting and fun things. For example, there was one time Dea was sitting out on the balcony watching the ocean looking for animals, and she saw a real live whale spouting water up. She got pretty excited and told Chris to come look, but he was lying on the bed watching a poker tournament on the TV which had been going on for hours, and it had just got to a big hand in the final and so he kept watching it, because I guess to him that was pretty exciting too. And every morning Dea would go off to choir practice. She was in the guest choir, and at the end of the cruise they all performed in front of everybody and I’ll bet she did a great job too ‘cos she’s a real nice singer. And Chris was going to the gym a lot, then after he’d come back to the room and take off his shirt and say things like “my muscles are getting a bit bigger aren’t they?” and Dea would tell him that they were, even though I don’t think they were really. And Dea also met a group of Danish people who were sailing the Bering Sea like the great Danish explorer Vitus Bering, and she spent some time with them and gave them a talk about our trip. But most of the time Chris and Dea were hanging out with their friends, Jack and Barbara, two other cyclists who were also on the ship, and most of that time they spent at the buffet.
But the really exciting thing about this cruise was when Chris and Dea found out that as well as a ship-building competition there was gonna be an egg-drop competition. For that they needed to drop two eggs down from the fifth floor to the third floor without cracking them using some sort of contraption. They thought they would make some sort of parachute to get the eggs down safely but then they said they would also need someone to hold onto the eggs to look after them, some sort of parachutist and I knew at that moment that this was something I was born to do. So I shouted out “Hey! ME! I can do that!”
The egg drop competition was on the last-but-one day of the cruise and we had put together a most fantastic parachute using an old plastic bag and some dental floss. The bag had some holes in it, but Dea patched those up with electrical tape and said they were nothing for me to worry about. I strapped myself in with the dental floss and held on tightly to two paper coffee cups under my arms, in which were the eggs. And on the parachute was written my name, but not my old name, Connor the Clown, my new name, Connor the Courageous. It was the proudest moment of my whole entire life.
The competition was being run by the cruise director, Paul Baya, who was a funny man with a bald head and a suit and a loud voice. He was gonna judge the competition based on three things – 1) if the eggs made it down to the ground without cracking, 2) if the eggs landed in a target area, and 3) how fast the eggs could be retrieved for judging. We were feeling pretty confident, because we could get our eggs out of the coffee cups super fast. We were second to jump, and even though the first team got their eggs down to the ground safely, it took them ages to unwrap their eggs from their contraption. We were so hopeful we could win.
Then it was my turn, my big moment in the spotlight. Ever since I was a little cuddly toy clown I dreamed about just such a moment. Chris stood on the fifth floor and held me up over the balcony, a bit like what Michael Jackson did with his kid once, and everybody gasped. All the old people were amazed to see me there, and I just swelled up with pride. Boy, oh boy, what a feeling! Then I looked down. Holy cow! It was a long way to the floor. And the target I had to hit looked ever so small. Suddenly my legs were all wobbly. Actually my legs are always wobbly, but they were extra wobbly, ‘cos they were just dangling there over the edge. Paul Baya said my name and told everyone that Connor the Courageous was about to jump, and he started counting down, and the nerves passed and I became absolutely totally and utterly focused on what I had to do. Everyone was watching me. I was going to do this.
Chris let go of the parachute and suddenly I was falling. The ground was rushing towards me, much faster than I expected. Then the parachute filled with air and I got a tiny, tiny, tiny little bit slower. But things weren’t going quite right. I was falling a little to the side, away from the target. I grappled with the dental floss, trying desperately to steer back on course but not quite managing it, because I am just a cuddly toy and I have a very limited range of movement. And then before I could do any more I hit the ground, and landed touching the edge of the target area, cushioning the eggs in their cups. I had done it! I had really done it! I was a hero!
Then there appeared a face above me that I recognised as Paul Baya who, I assumed, had come to congratulate me. But instead he said, “Oh, let’s see if he’s in the target area. Oh! Not quite!”
“WHAT!?! I’M ON THE LINE PAUL BAYA! I’M ON THE LINE!” I screamed, going full John McEnroe. Unfortunately Paul Baya could not hear me, because for some reason that I don’t really understand, whenever anyone other than Chris and Dea is around no sound comes out of my mouth, no matter how hard I scream.
“The rules state that at least 51% of the contraption has to land in the target area. I’m sorry.”
“THE PARACHUTE IS THE CONTRAPTION!” Chris was shouting down from the balcony. Yes! The parachute had landed in the target area! But, no, Paul Baya ignored him. He completely ignored him and put a big cross next to Connor the Courageous on his clipboard. I had failed. We had lost.
Dea had to go to choir practice so she missed the end of the competition, which was won by a stupid woman who just wrapped her eggs in a pillow. She won a bottle of champagne and took all of the congratulations, and I felt very sad to have won nothing. Then Paul Baya announced that there were consolation prizes for all the other competitors and I felt happy about that. But Chris was walking away with me already, and I heard him say to Barbara that we didn’t want any consolation prizes and no matter how much I screamed at him, he wouldn’t go back and get one.
The next day was the last day of the cruise and we were sailing something called the inside passage between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland, and everyone thought that was really nice and pretty to see, with all the islands and mountains and trees, but I was just so sad. I wanted to win something for Chris and Dea so bad. I felt like I’d let everybody down. But the cruise wasn’t over, and there was still the ship-building contest, and all of the other cuddly toys were too excited about that to notice me being sad. They were all finally going to get to sail in the swimming pool. Chris and Dea had built them a boat out of a couple of bicycle inner tubes, a bin liner, a bit of metal they found in Russia, and a lot of cable ties and electrical tape. Captain Plopples was at the front of the ship looking so proud. First Mate Kevin was on one side, Cruise Director Karen on the other, and Navigational Officer Thomas sat on the back steering the rudder. But there was no room left on the boat for me. Chris and Dea said because I got to do the egg drop I had to let the other cuddly toys sail the ship. So I was going to have to sit alone in the room being sad while they all went and had fun.
Then just before they were about to go to the pool, Chris noticed me, and he said “Why don’t we let Connor the Courageous come along as a lifeguard?” Oh boy! I got so excited about that idea! And he quickly made me a yellow t-shirt out of an old bag he had, and wrote Lifeguard on it, and I was just so happy and so proud to be trusted with such an important job as that.
We all got to the swimming pool where we saw that some of the other teams had built ships using things like plastic bottles and cups that looked much more impressive than ours. But they did not have a crew of cuddly toys, and that gave our boat a big advantage in my opinion. Barbara was also there and she had built a boat all out of paper, which was pretty cool too if you ask me.
Chris sat me down at the edge of the pool and told me that if our boat got in trouble then it was my job as lifeguard to go in and save everyone.
“You can swim can’t you Connor?” he whispered.
“Yes, I think so,” I said back (telepathically), though I’d never actually tried it before. Then suddenly Paul Baya showed up, being all loud and funny and bald again. He was wearing his suit and he announced that it was time for the first ship to enter the water and see if it would float. And then he walked into the water with the boat, and everyone else laughed because it was funny that he’d go into the water still wearing his suit, except I wasn’t laughing. I was thinking, Oh GOD, I hope Paul Baya can swim, because he is so big, I don’t know if I’ll be able to save him, I won’t know what to do, but luckily he could reach the bottom so it wasn’t a problem in the end.
Our ship was next into the water and all of the cuddly toys were so excited when Paul Baya carried them out into the pool and let them go. Everyone held their breath to see if the cuddly toys were going to get wet, and I was ready to throw myself in (with Chris’s help) and save them if needed. But the boat had been well built and it floated perfectly. Oh, how wonderful it was to see those toys finally sailing in the swimming pool at long last. Then for the next test Paul Baya put six coke cans into the ship to see if it could safely carry this weight. Not a problem at all. They were truly sailors now.
The next challenge was for all of the boats to go into the pool together and for some people to throw basketballs at them to see how well they could stand being attacked by basketballs. I don’t know why. But now that the boat no longer need to hold any coke cans there was space in the middle, and everyone agreed I should join the other cuddly toys on board. That way if a basketball hit I would be there ready to save everyone. Oh, it was really nice to float about in the pool with the rest of the cuddly crew. At least it was until people started throwing basketballs towards us. But luckily they missed us and hit the bigger ships around us, and we all survived.
There were only four ships that had passed every test, and ours was one of them and we were confident we’d done enough to win. But then Paul Baya announced the results and the first two places went to the teams that had built big ships that looked like ships, and the bronze to Barbara for her paper boat. We had failed again. There would be no prizes for us. I felt so sad again. Then Paul Baya came over to us and I screamed, “Oh, I have had just about enough of you Paul Baya!” but luckily he couldn’t hear me, for the reason I mentioned earlier. So he sat down and said to me. “Well done Connor the Courageous. You’ve done so well. Parachuting yesterday. Getting wet today-”
“I didn’t get wet today actually, that was you!”
“-and so I’d like to award you this special gold medal for all of your efforts.”
“WOW! REALLY? Thanks, Paul Baya!”
And Paul Baya reached down and put a gold medal around my little neck, and it was the proudest, most amazingly amazing and special moment of my whole entire cuddly toy clown life.
And that’s what happened on the cruise.
p.s. For a human perspective of the cruise, check out Jack and Barbara’s blog here.