E F Knight on Sailing is a handbook on small boat sailing written by Edward Frederick Knight (1852-1925) and used by Dick Callum and Jim Brading. The first edition was published in 1889 by G Bell, London and the second edition was published in 1901 by John Murray, London. The full title of the second edition is: Small-boat sailing : an explanation of the management of small yachts, half-decked and open sailing-boats of various rigs ; sailing on sea and on river ; cruising, etc.
Knight sailed to Trinidade an island in the Caribbean Sea in 1880 and 1889. Ransome was a long-time fan of his sailing books and used two of his books The Cruise of the Alerte and The Cruise of the Falcon for his book Peter Duck and for Crab Island in the book.
In We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea John "took Knight's Sailing from the bookshelf" to check on "signals in fog" while "not under way" (WD7). At sea Roger says there is "a book floating about" in the water on the floor of Goblin’s cabin (WD11), and later he "caught Knight on Sailing, that John had not put away. He grabbed it out of the water, and, just in time, was stopped from pushing it among the dry books" (WD12).
In The Picts and the Martyrs Dick takes out "a thin blue book, Sailing, by E. F. Knight, on which he meant to put in some hard work during the (rail) journey." He has two other books about birds and about the countryside, and when he tells Dorothea about the books she says "Oh .... Nothing to read at all" (PM2). "Dorothea had the sailing book .... it was a good thing that she was trying to read it" (PM12). Before their first sail in Scarab Dick "had Knight’s Sailing with him" and was "thinking of the diagrams in his book" (PM14). Later "The overtaking boat has to keep out of the way of the overtaken" said Dick, remembering his book (PM15). Dick says "Books always help a lot .... It would have been much worse if we hadn’t been reading the sailing book so much" (PM16)..
However in Swallows and Amazons the two books that John Walker takes with him even on holidays and takes to Wild Cat Island (in a tin box) are The Seaman’s Handybook and Part Three of The Baltic Pilot. Both had belonged to his father (SA2).