I generally manage to avoid using the ferries at peak hours.

When your time’s your own, as mine by and large is, the (even) higher fares, the badly-supervised kids and the scramble for a decent seat, can mostly be avoided if you go about your business in the middle of the night.

Recently though I had no choice. Out on Bank Holiday Monday, back on Friday afternoon. Both Red Funnel crossings were full or almost full, and it was no picnic.

Of passing interest, berthed in Southampton, was the newly arrived jewel in the RF crown, the £10m Red Kestrel, shaped a bit like a miniature aircraft carrier and about to go into service as its first freight-only ferry.

Red Funnel’s chief executive Fran Collins is very excited about the Kestrel, which she reckons will enhance convenience for her customers. It took a little close questioning by a journalist to reveal the downside.

And there is indeed a downside. Remember the peak-hour crowds, the dash for seats? Nearly all of those seats are filled by the drivers and passengers of the cars, coaches — and lorries — on the vehicle deck.

From this month a chunk of lorry traffic will migrate to the Kestrel. Every 12 lorries and their drivers removed from the existing ferries will make room for up to 35 cars and their occupants — maybe around 100 of them.

Ms Collins knows it’s sometimes impossible to get a seat as it is — she accepts that customer feedback says so. She also seems to be softening us up for worse to come when she says: “For this summer there will be some days where seating is difficult. We do have alternative options — passengers can choose to upgrade or to sit outside — but we know that’s not always optimal for people.” Where to start? Probably by extrapolating from those comments the facts as they’re likely to play out this summer.

There will be some days — more days than last summer — where there will be no seats to be had unless you’re willing to take your chance with the weather and the smokers on deck, or fork out £10 to get into the Signature Lounge, ‘a quiet, relaxing space to work or socialise’ complete with nibbles and hot drinks.

Ms Collins professes not to want Red Funnel to be seen as a corporate giant, but the investment in Red Kestrel has all the hallmarks of a strategy based on the bottom line.

She also says she expects community scrutiny of a business on which so many Islanders depend. I think the level of that scrutiny may increase spectacularly if customers find that, having paid summer prices to cross The Solent, they’re then made to stand for an hour while upstairs, behind the obscured windows of the Signature Lounge, the relaxed socialisation, complete with nibbles, is in full swing.

I never have been able to understand why rail passengers put up with standing when there are empty seats in first class. It would neither surprise nor disappoint me to find this view shared by lots of Islanders — in which case Red Funnel may soon find it has a squall or two to contend with.