I am thinking about taking my Jeanneau Tonic 23 (with outboard) across the Straits of Dover this year if the conditions are suitable (ie F 2-4 / slight). Although I crossed the channel several times some years ago, it was always much further west in a much larger yacht with a powerful diesel to help me keep out of trouble in the TSS.
Now contemplating what I imagine will be denser traffic in the Straits, in a smaller, slower and less capable yacht, I am more conscious it might be trickier to take avoiding action than I'm used to, not least because of the possibility of ferry traffic from behind or in front. I want to be clear on my options for avoiding ships, more critical in the Tonic as I can't rely on the engine to give me extra speed to pass ahead of conflicting traffic where necessary.
The regs state that I have to steer at right angles to the TSS direction of traffic to minimise my time in the zone. How closely this is policed? Presumably it is acceptable to alter course by 20 degrees or so for a few minutes in order to pass behind a ship or avoid a ferry?
Otherwise, another option would then be to reduce my speed or even heave to while a ship passes but these options are tricky in the Tonic if the sea happened to be rougher than anticipated (due to wake from shipping ??) as I'd possibly lose steerage with my light weight and high windage.
Otherwise, is it preferred to turn parallel to the direction of traffic (in the same direction as the shipping of course) for a while to allow ships to pass ahead or to avoid a ferry.
Any thoughts from sailors of small yachts who have made this trip?
How much difference to the sea state does wake from the concentrated shipping make in the TSS?