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Valheim guide: Building boats and sailing

Build a raft, karve, or longship, take the controls, and navigate the ocean biome

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

After a little exploring, you’ll learn that Valheim’s world is a series of islands separated by ocean biome. To travel between those islands, you’ll need to build a boat and learn to sail.

This Valheim sailing guide will explain what you need to build boats — the raft, karve, and longship — and teach you the mechanics behind them, including sailing controls.

Build a raft, karve, or longship

To build a boat, build a workbench near water. You need to be in the radius of the workbench to build your boat, and the boat needs to be built on water. You’ll probably want some sort of camp on the shore — maybe with a dedicated portal.

The boat you can build depends on the metal you have available. The raft is cheap and can be built early, the karve requires bronze, and the longship needs iron.

  • Raft (20 wood, 6 leather straps, 10 resin)
  • Karve (30 fine wood, 10 deer hide, 20 resin, 80 bronze nails)
  • Longship (40 fine wood, 40 ancient bark, 10 deer hide, 100 iron nails)
Valheim guide From Eikthyr to The Elder walkthrough
Build a workbench close to water to build a ship.
Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon

A raft is the cheapest option, but it’s painfully slow and won’t last long on the open seas. A karve or a longship are much more pleasant (and faster) sailing experiences.

More importantly, karves and longships have storage onboard — 4 slots and 18 slots, respectively. This is extremely useful when transporting metal, since raw metal (metal that’s not a tool) can’t go through portals.

Sailing controls and tips

Once you have a boat, you’ve got some new things to learn. To get started, head for the rudder near the back (aft) and interact.

Valheim guide From Eikthyr to The Elder walkthrough
Sailing uses the same controls as walking. You’ll also get some new icons on your HUD.
Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon

At the rudder, your HUD will change, and you’ll get a couple new icons. You’ll also have new sailing controls.

  • Speed. Just below the minimap, you’ll see a speed indicator. There are multiple speeds: rowing (an oar/rudder icon), half sail, and full sail.
  • Sails vs wind direction. Below speed, you’ll see a boat icon in a ring with a puff of wind. To sail, you need head away from or across the wind. This icon helps you do that — turn left or right to keep that puff of wind in the gold part of the ring and keep moving.
  • Steering. To steer, move left or right with the same controls as walking. The rudder sticks wherever you leave it, so remember to straighten out or you’ll sail in circles.
  • Sails. To lower and raise the sails, use forward and back with the same controls as walking. If you keep hitting back, you’ll paddle backward (slowly). This cycles through rowing in reverse, rowing forward, half sail, and full sail. The yellow chevrons above the steering wheel icon indicate how fast you’re currently going.