Hi Barrie,The use of helmsmen was of course widespread on the canal - and helmsmanship was de facto the apprenticeship for pilotage.
I merely make the point that the engagement of neither one was compulsory, prior to 1987.
Just to change the question a bit, how do pilots organise their time?
On a Sunday night would you know what work you would get for the next week?
I never remember being held up for lack of a pilot but of course they don't come out of thin air.