Yet another experience added to our repertoire. Night passage. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect to cross Lake Saint-Pierre. Relatively flat water, light winds and clear skies.
We pulled anchor around 21:30h from our place on the River Saint-Maurice and headed out of Trois-Rivières. The city lights lit our way.
As we reached the Laviolette Bridge the night descended fully. No longer did we have the city lights to see the buoys that marked the Saint-Lawrence Seaway.
Francois had, in advance, placed waypoints into the chart plotter and into the iPad just in case and we had of course our paper charts to be able to consult our progress. As it turned out, radar could have been a great tool but we found that when the skies are clear nothing can replace a kean eye on the water. At first, in the dark, all we could see was a sea of green and red buoys all mixed together, port, starboard, to the left and right, like a two dimensional arcade game. It was impossible to tell which was which at first. I felt a bit of panic in the beginning wondering if we had again taken on too much. During all of this there came an emergency call on the VHF about a collsion of two boats in the Port of Montreal so you can imagine what visions were going through my head. Crazy partying boaters heading home in the dark. It wasn’t a pleasant thought. Not to mention the container ships that frequently navigate the river at night. On land I have trouble driving at night. My depth percetion isn’t that great, but as time went on it became much easier following the channel markers and when it wasn’t obvious which buoy was next the range lights showed us the way. But as always, François was the voice of calm in my head.
The stars were amazing, like a blanket of sparkling lights they covered the sky. Mars and Jupiter were the most clear planets. And the moon, wow! As it rose, its light on the water was magnificent!
We were prepared with cockpit cushions fully intending on taking shifts of two hours on, and two off but there was so much excitement generated with the newness of this experience that neither of us felt like closing our eyes.
A coffee and some snacks were all we needed to keep the vision. The container ships (our BFB’s) were foremost the most concern along the way once we figured the party boats were way past their sleepy time. We passed one at anchor being serviced by a pilot boat and farther on, one heading east. We can keep fairly well off channel if necessary but it was a trick judging in the dark when we would hit their wake but it all went very well. The only other one we met was as we reached our anchorage eight hours later.
We dropped the hook securing all, then crashed (sleep-wise that is) just as the sun was rising over the Sorel Archipelago. Now after two days have passed, François commented that it all seems like a dream. I guess it was in a way a dream. A dream with a successful outcome.