Testing the marriage during COVID-19

Published on March 1st, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
My wife and I have been sailing together for over thirty years, which I suspect means we passed some kind of test. However, I was still going into uncharted waters for this year’s Valentine’s Day when I bought her (okay, I wanted it too) Sharon Green’s Ultimate Sailing jigsaw puzzle.

We are not puzzle people…not sure why… maybe the outdoorsy southern California lifestyle. I’m guessing it’d been 15 years since we’d done a puzzle, and that was likely with our then grade school kids. Big pieces, small puzzle, easy peezy. But with bubble living during COVID-19, normal keeps changing.

To get ready I cut a piece of plywood a few inches bigger than the 19″ x 27″ puzzle to work on. We’d be setting it on our dining room table, and this would allow us to move it when needed. But when I opened the box, my eyes glazed over, and when I emptied the 1000 pieces, I knew I was screwed.

I immediately texted Sharon. “Damn, these things are small. This is going to take a while.” She suggested I set up a tri-pod for a time lapse video. “I wouldn’t have my phone for a month,” I replied. She gave me some tips on how to do it, and then hoped all the pieces were there. “I’m already hating you for starting this,” I wrote. “If there is a missing piece, I will hunt you down.”

My first error was the plywood. Whatever size of puzzle, the initial space required is over double that. We needed to find a new place to eat. Our second challenge was working on it at night. Once you get passed the border pieces, the subtlety of color is lost in the light bulbs. The next morning, with natural light flowing in the adjacent window, the pieces we couldn’t find the night before nearly jump into our hands.

Over time, I began hating Sharon less and enjoying the process more. Our sport is stunning with its color and texture, and we slowly got better at recognizing these variances and matching pieces with similar subtleties. We argued a little but mostly celebrated each other’s progress.

We are nearly done, and it looks like the marriage will survive its latest test. It’s rewarding to see sailing in this medium, and we are even considering framing it, partly because it’s a beautiful image and partly to keep us from doing it again.

However, Sharon is hinting there will be another puzzle coming soon. I just hope its not a recent photo of our sport with white hulls and white sails. I’m not sure our skill level is there yet, nor do I want to lose our dining room table for that long.

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