From the time of Champlain's expeditions until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, travel between France and the colony was subject to numerous technical and natural constraints. Developed by the Portuguese beginning in the 1440s, the European art of navigation on the open sea combined the use of the portolano and later, nautical charts, which gradually became more accurate and complete as new territories were discovered, with the use of the compass and the astrolabe to determine latitude. The secret of longitude was not discovered until the 1760s, with the invention of the first marine chronometer. Dead reckoning was the common method of navigating at the time, using empirically calculated speed and successive landfalls. Shipwrecks and damage resulting from errors in judgement were part of the routine of crossing, especially in view of the extreme contrasts of weather (storms, fog and ice) encountered on approaching the coast of Canada. In the 15th century, fully rigged sailing ships became more common than galleys because of their higher waterline, rounded form and the complex rigging of their two or three masts. However, they were heavy and slow. French shipbuilding, long a craft-based enterprise, improved in the 18th century thanks to the contribution of specialized engineers, and it became possible to build ships with increased tonnage. Still, the voyage between the two continents lasted fifty days, on average.

Coupe d'un amiral de 104 pièces de canon... [Cross-section of a 104-gun flagship giving the main dimensions and the names of the interior compartments], from Le Neptune françois ou Atlas nouveau des cartes marines, by Pène, Cassini et al., 1693
FR BNF Ge CC 1114, 1ère partie, p. 7
Navigation
Treatise on Sea Navigation
The Crossing
Passenger List
The Voyage of Asseline de Ronval
The St. Lawrence River
The Chameau
View of Québec