Valheim: How to build and upgrade boats | Upgrading to a longship

By Rebecca Jones, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 16:02 GMT

As a Norse mythology inspired survival game, Valheim would of course be incomplete without a selection of boats and longships for you to sail around in.

These quintessential Viking vehicles are available in the game; but like most everything else in Valheim, you have to craft them yourself.

On this page:

What boats can you build in Valheim?

There are currently three boats you can build in Valheim. Bearing in mind that this is an Early Access game, it’s currently unknown whether more will be added later on.

These boats are the simple raft, the mid-sized karve, and the impressive longship.

Rather than building them individually, you have to start any boat building project in Valheim with a raft. You can then upgrade it to a karve and finally to a longship with the right resources.

How to build a Raft in Valheim: finding leather scraps and resin

Rafts are the simplest watercraft in Valheim, but even so the resources to make one can be hard to come by. The 20 pieces of wood you need should be easy enough to source, but for the rest, you’re going to need to go hunting.

For the six leather scraps, head to the Meadows and hunt some boars. Leather scraps are a guaranteed drop when killing a boar. Alternatively, there’s also a chance you’ll find some scraps in chests around the meadows, or in muddy scrap piles in the Sunken Crypts dungeon. However, boars are by far the most reliable source, and appear frequently even in the early game.

The ten resin you need can be acquired by defeating Greydwarf enemy creatures. They can be found in many areas but are most common in the Black Forest. The good news (for these specific purposes, anyway) is that they will hunt you at night, meaning that you shouldn’t need to go out of your way to track them down. A felled Greydwarf has a high likelihood of dropping resin, and since they usually hunt in pairs or threes, it shouldn’t take too many encounters to get all you need.

Thanks to a quirk of Valheim’s (again, it’s Early Access), you’ll need a workbench not just to craft a raft, but to start sailing it too.

Place a workbench near the water where you want to build the raft. (You can’t place one right on the water’s edge, but nearby should do.) Once it’s placed, select the hammer in your inventory and go to the ‘Misc’ tab. If you have all the necessary resources, you should be able to select the raft. Place the raft on the water to instantly build one.

How to build a Karve in Valheim: making bronze nails, finding deer hides and fine wood

In order to upgrade the raft to the karve, you’ll need the following resources:

  • 20 resin
  • 80 bronze nails
  • 10 deer hides
  • 30 pieces of fine wood

Bronze nails can be crafted on the forge. For details on how to build the forge, see this guide.

Deer hides can be obtained by hunting deer in the Meadows or Black Forest. There’s also a chance that the resource will be found in chests in those areas.

There are a couple of ways to get fine wood. Chopping down birch or oak trees in the Meadows is one way — but note you’ll need the bronze axe to do so. An alternative that allows you to bypass the need for a bronze axe is to salvage some from ship wrecks around the Black Forest, though this is less reliable.

You craft the karve upgrade in a very similar way to how you crafted the basic raft. Place your workbench near the water and bring up your hammer. Under the ‘Misc’ tab, toggle to the karve. Then place it in the water just like you did the raft.

How to build a Longship in Valheim: making iron nails and finding ancient bark

The longship is the final upgrade to the boat in Valheim, and it’s appropriately impressive. Be honest, this is what you were hoping to ride around in when you signed up for this Viking-themed RPG — the bragging rights alone are worth the time it takes to collect the resources.

To craft this upgrade, you will need the following:

  • 10 deer hide
  • 40 pieces of fine wood
  • 100 iron nails
  • 40 pieces of ancient bark

The recipe for iron nails should be unlocked the first time you smelt an iron bar out of scrap iron. For more details on how to get the smelter, see this guide.

Pieces of ancient bark drop from the (apparently quite dead) ancient trees in the Swamp.

Once you’ve gathered all the resources, repeat the steps you took to craft the karve upgrade. Place your workbench near the water and bring up your hammer. Under the ‘Misc’ tab, toggle to the longship. Then place it in the water. Congratulations — you’re now the proud owner of the sweetest ride in Valheim.

How to sail a boat in Valheim

Of course, building your boat is just the beginning: what you really want is to sail it around exploring the world of Valheim.

All vessels in the game are sailed using the same controls. To begin sailing, jump aboard and interact with the rudder.

It’s possible to sail with or against the wind in Valheim. A compass rose on the right-hand side of the screen indicates the current wind direction. A white symbol indicates the wind is in your favour, meaning you can sail in your current direction using the sails. If the symbol is greyed out, you’re trying to sail against the wind and will need to use the rudder.

Here are a few quick-start tips to help you get the hang of the sailing controls in Valheim:

  • Press ‘W’ on the rudder or sails to use them.
  • Use ‘A’ and ‘D’ to steer the boat from side to side.
  • Pressing ‘W’ repeatedly on the sails will lower and raise them to different fullness, allowing you some control over your speed, or to stop the boat entirely.
  • Pressing ‘S’ on the rudder will also bring the boat to a stop.

If you’re playing in co-op and aren’t the designated driver, you can ‘Hold fast’ to the mast with ‘E’ to prevent yourself from getting jostled into the water while in motion.

For more Valheim tips, here’s our full guide hub.

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