How to Sail Boats in Valheim

How to Sail Boats in Valheim

Learn how to sail boats in Valheim

At some point, getting to where you need to go in Valheim requires sailing. Learning and mastering how to sail boats in Valheim will become a necessary skill due to the breadth of the map and the spread of resources across the game world. Even if you have set up a network of portals for getting around, precious metals will need to travel by boat back to your base of operations.

Your world seed randomly generates, and that means essential bosses, locations, and the only vendor in the entire world can be anywhere on the map. Considering how often you’ll take to the ocean, it’s crucial to have all of the sailing tips and tricks you can wrangle together.

Crafting boats in Valheim

There are currently three tiers of boats in Valheim; the raft, the Karve, and the longboat. To craft a boat, you’ll need to have a workbench near the shore and a hammer equipped. 

After selecting the desired boat from the build menu, make sure the boat will spawn in deep enough water. Ships will appear just above the surface and drop into the sea. In shallow water, this might result in the boat taking damage or getting stuck on world geometry.

The Raft

The recipe for crafting a raft is as follows:

  • 20 x Wood
  • 6 x Leather Scraps
  • 6 x Resin

The raft is the smallest boat available in Valheim. It has no seats or storage but has a spot for the pilot to hold the rudder and passengers’ capacity to brace themselves by gripping the mast. It is the slowest of all boats and only has 300 hp.

The Karve

The recipe for crafting a Karve is as follows:

  • 80 x Bronze Nails
  • 30 x Fine Wood
  • 20 x Resin
  • 10x Deer Hide

The Karve features a four-slot cargo hold, two seats for passengers, and a designated spot for the pilot. It is substantially faster than the raft and has 500 hp. Much like the raft, players can hold fast on the mast.

The Longship

The recipe for crafting a longship is as follows:

  • 100 x Iron Nails
  • 40 x Fine Wood
  • 40 x Ancient Bark
  • 10 x Deer Hide

As the fleet’s workhorse, the longship, features a massive 18-slot cargo space and a massive 1000 hp making it the go-to boat when moving resources across Valheim’s seas. Unlike the Karve or raft, it has four seats and has two places for players to hold fast. The mast is still available, but if you want to look really cool, you can strike a pose at the forward bow. 

Sailing in Valheim

Regardless of which boat you choose, the practice of sailing is the same. Once a pilot sits at the rudder, you can decide how fast the ship travels. You can row the boat slowly forwards and in reverse and sail at half or full sail. 

By default, the boat will be at rest but will increase in speed by tapping W and will decrease in speed, then reverse by Pressing S.

Think of ‘W’ as putting the boat in drive and ‘S’ as putting it in reverse.

Reverse Row > Stop > Row > Half Sail > Full Sail

Increasing or decreasing speed is similar to changing gears. You don’t need to hold W or S down. Simply tap them to shift up or down in speed.

You can steer the ship using A and D to turn left and right. Note that at high speeds, turning will come with a certain amount of drift. Turning to avoid a potential crash might require you to turn earlier than you think.

Luckily, all boats come with an auto-braking feature that will kick in if all players somehow go overboard.


While rowing, you will travel frustratingly slow. However, you will keep sharp control over how quickly the boat turns. This speed is only for fine-tuning your docking or reversing a safe distance out to sea before dropping sails.

Half Sails 

You will travel roughly half your maximum speed with sails at the half, depending on wind conditions. It is best to use this speed when you’re approaching the shore, primarily so that you don’t run aground and have an easier time avoiding surface-level rocks and other obstacles.

Full Sails

Full sails will give you your maximum speed depending on the wind and weather. It will be a bit more challenging to avoid obstacles at this speed, so reserve this setting for open waters where you are only trying to put distance behind you rather than maneuvering through complicated terrain. Likewise, this is the best speed to be at if you are being chased by a sea serpent.

Wind in Valheim

To get the most out of your boat, you’ll need to travel with the wind. Knowing which way the wind is blowing is made easy by a UI feature that will appear when you’re at the helm of your ship. 

Once you grip the rudder, you’ll see a ring on the right side of your screen with an indicator pointing to which way the wind is blowing in regards to your boat. 

If your boat’s UI points into the black part of the ring, you are sailing against the wind. Ideally, you want your boat’s wind indicator in the gold section of the ring to sail with the wind. 

Your boat will automatically move its sails into the ideal position, but you’ll have to raise and lower them manually to adjust your speed.

The wind will change randomly, making tacking left and right to maintain the wind unpredictable. As tempting as it is to do this, it is often wiser to simply raise your sails and row when traveling into the wind.

How to sail faster in Valheim

As we said, tacking with the wind is tempting but often doesn’t work out as you would hope. The real secret to faster sea travel in Valheim is to defeat the fourth boss, Moder. 

Defeating Moder will give you access to her forsaken power, setting the wind as always behind you for five minutes. This power will save you on long trips when the wind isn’t in your favor. Or if you find yourself chased by a serpent and your ship is in poor repair! 

While the power comes with a 20-minute cooldown, you can keep this buff up indefinitely with four people in the boat.

Sea serpents in Valheim

The biggest threat to your boat outside of your inability to pilot is the sea serpents. One or two solid hits from a serpent are enough to sink a raft, whereas a Karve or longboat will hold up a little longer.

You’ll need to either outrun the sea serpents or fend them off with bows. Again the raft loses out as it cannot outrun sea serpents. Whereas both the Karve and the longboat can outrun them when traveling with the wind.

If you’re fighting them off, the only reasonable defense method is the bow unless you’re intentionally hunting serpents. In which case, you’ll need to bring a harpoon to tow them to shore.

To the edge and beyond

Sailing in Valheim is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to explore the world and find new biomes when your local ones tap out of resources. Much in the same way that a good Viking keeps their armor and weapons in good repair, so too should they keep their ships in top shape.

Travel far enough to see the great white north or the southern Ashland. Travel even further, and you’ll find the edge of all things. We know what’s out there, but you’ll have to find out for yourselves.

About Squishface

Squishface is the co-founder and owner of Corrosion Hour; a RUST community and website dedicated to helping server owners with the administration and navigation of the ever-changing landscape of RUST. As a tech professional with over a decade in the field and a deep love of gaming, she spends much of her time in code researching and developing ways to bring meaningful content to players and readers.

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