We sail in very close quarters in our channel. There is room for two ships to pass but that is about it. There is also plenty of depth
for all yachts to be "out of the channel - defined as a line from one marker to the next.
These ships are often travelling at 7+ knots as running with the current
+ steerage requires it. No one really monitors radio
but the ships doo blast long and early if they see boats in the center of the channel. There have been many cases of lasers and picos being becalmed in our channel. This is a scary thought as the ships can't practically stop or change course. If they were to stop without steerage they would be out of control.
We look ahead (and behind) and plan ahead and I always make sure the aux motor
is working. This weekend we had to cross the channel and the winds were light. A ship was coming so I started the engine
and left it in idle in preparation for evading if I needed to.
As for advice for OP? - you should always know the mechanical status of your boat and therefore know if the aux engine
is not working - I appears you did. If your aux engine is not working and you are in a channel that creates a restricted situation for ships, plan ahead and stay well to the sides of the channel. Your channel must have room for two ships to pass as well as room for small yachts to hug the edges. Leave a downwind escape so that if it looks tight you can bear away. Finally if the wind
is weak and no aux motor
you should have ground tackle ready.
I had a close encounter a month or so back. Stupid mistake on my part and I learned a lot. Consider this just a lesson. I sense that "scaring" the admiral was the reason that you posted.
Now for a little thread drift - there's an aviation joke that goes - A private propellor driven airplane is cleared to land - which basically means he "owns" the approach path and landing runway until he is done. A commercial
jet behind calls the tower and says, "Tell that little guy to huury up. I am catching up with him." The tower states, "The little guy is cleared to land. You will have to slow down" The commercial
jet says, "I can't slow down and if I have to go around it wil cost my airline, $20,000 in fuel
." The tower stated, "Commercial jet you are cleared for the $20,000 go around."
I respect commercial shipping
as much as humanly possible. They are making a living and I am reducing stress. Dicing with a ship just raises my stress level.
PS - Added a shot of our boat "giving way" in the channel.