“Winter” trips took place over the New Year Holiday, usually starting on the Saturday after Christmas for a week. One or two trips were “Wednesday-to-Wednesday” trips because the New Year fell at a weekend. The first one was in 1971/2 and they continued until 1977/8. the 1978/9 trip was cancelled because the canals were frozen and after that the trips switched to Spring.
The boats were very basic. Even the cabin boats had only a gas fire in the main saloon for heating (nothing in the sleeping quarters) and hot water had to be obtained by boiling a kettle on the first trips. Toilets discharged directly into the canal. On the camping boats the crew ate and slept in the hold under canvas with a chemical toilet (“those who use it must empty it”) up for’ard. They did have a gas heater but were also kept warm by hot air blown from the air-cooled engine.
On the cabin boats the batteries would quickly run down at night and there was not usually enough power left to start the engine in the morning. For this reason two starting handles were provided and three people – one at each end of the crankshaft and one positioned ready to throw the decompression taps over once the crank had reached the right speed – were needed to start the engine.