Here's how to build your first boat, the raft, in Valheim, including controls and how to understand wind direction.

Valheim Raft Guide: How to Build Your First Boat and How It Controls

Here's how to build your first boat, the raft, in Valheim, including controls and how to understand wind direction.

You can build larger boats in Valheim, but the first seafaring vessel you’ll construct is the raft. After defeating the game’s first boss, Eikthyr, you’ll need to strike out from the Meadows biome to new (and harsher) lands. But water likely separates you and your destination. 

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You can swim across small bodies of water, such as tributaries and thin rivers, but to cross a lake or the ocean, you’ll need something more substantial. 

How to Build a Raft

Before you can construct a boat, you must first build a workbench by the water. The white circle that denotes the workbench’s buildable area must be in the water. 

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to find and kill six boars to get six leather strips, chop down several trees for wood and resin, and (possibly) kill several Greylings for resin if you didn’t get enough from the trees.

The full recipe is: 

  • 20x wood
  • 6x leather strips
  • 6x resin

Equip the hammer and open the build/crafting menu by clicking the right mouse button. Go to the “Misc” tab. The raft icon is to the far right. Click it, face the water, and press the left mouse button to construct it. 

Raft Controls and How to Sail

There isn’t much to traveling Valheim‘s waterways. All you have to do is jump on the vessel and press “E” to operate the rudder (the handle on the right side).

When piloting the craft, you’ll see a yellow steering wheel appear above the rudder. Press “A” to steer to the left and “D” to steer to the right. A yellow bar above the wheel indicates how far to the right or left the rudder is turned. 

There’s also the mast and sail. When you first get on, the sail will be rolled up. Pressing “W” extends the sail a little bit with each press until it is fully unfurled. There are three settings for the sail, indicated by up arrows (^) above the steering wheel icon. “Pressing “S” rolls the sail back up. 

Taking Wind Direction into Account

It’s important to take wind direction into account when sailing because it determines how fast your raft or ship will move through the water.

Wind direction is indicated in two ways: 

  1. A white arrow in the bottom-left corner of the mini-map.
  2. A gold circle underneath the mini-map with a breeze icon when sailing. 

The gold circle is perhaps the best way to determine wind direction. The oblong icon in the middle shows your boat’s direction, with the point being the front and the rounded edge being the back. The white breeze icon on the edge of the circle shows wind direction.

Ideally, you always want this breeze icon to your back, as it will provide you with the greatest amount of wind and speed. However, you can get away with the wind coming from the left or right. Though the mast will automatically shift in these directions, you may have to use the rudder to turn the boat a bit to gain more speed.

If the wind gets in front of you, the white icon will turn grey, indicating a headwind. You can still sail into the wind, but you can only move forward (currently) with the sail unfurled to the first position, indicated by a single arrow (^) above the steering wheel. 

If you fall off, you can use the ladder on the back of the raft to get back on. 

(Thanks to community member Nunya for the heads up on being able to sail into headwinds and use the ladder.)

Can the Raft Capsize? 

Currently, no: the raft cannot capsize. It will take some damage when beached or if it bangs up against rocks. 

That’s all you need to know about your Valheim raft. Now that you know how to build one and pilot it, there’s no biome you can’t conquer. For more tips, consider checking out our other articles on building campfires inside, repairing your equipment, and how to set map markers

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Jonathan Moore
Jonathan Moore is the Editor-in-Chief of GameSkinny and has been writing about games since 2010. With over 1,200 published articles, he's written about almost every genre, from city builders and ARPGs to third-person shooters and sports titles. While patiently awaiting anything Dino Crisis, he consumes all things Star Wars. He has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing focused on games writing and narrative design. He's previously been a newspaper copy editor, ad writer, and book editor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music, watching football, and walking his three dogs. He lives on Earth and believes in aliens, thanks to Fox Mulder.