Valheim sailing guide: How to build and sail every ship

Valheim (Image credit: @VincentGat on Twitter)

In Valheim, creating a vessel and sailing the seas is one of the most important progression steps. Not only does sailing enable you to visit distant lands where more advanced biomes full of important resources await, but ships are also one of the best ways to transport ore and metals since you can't teleport them. Therefore, you should aim to get your hands on a sea vessel as soon as possible. Here's a detailed guide on how to make each of Valheim's three ships, as well as how to control them properly and how to keep them safe from nefarious sea serpents.

Valheim sailing guide: Every ship and how to build them

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There are three different ships that you can build in Valheim, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here's a look at what makes each ship unique, as well as what materials you'll need to build them.

  • Rafts are the easiest ship to make in Valheim, but they have the lowest health (300 HP) and top speed (9 km/h) of the lot. They also have no storage compartments. You'll need 20x Wood, 6x Leather Scraps, and 10x Resin to make one.
  • Karves are the next step up, featuring better health (500 HP) and top speed (17 km/h) compared to the Raft. It also comes with four storage slots for cargo. To make one, you'll need 30x Fine Wood, 10x Deer Hide, 20x Resin, and 80x Bronze Nails.
  • Longships are the best ship available in Valheim, but they're also the most expensive. Featuring the best health (1000 HP) and top speed (25 km/h), they're the safest vessels you can take out to sea. They also have a massive 18 storage slots, meaning that they're excellent for carrying large quantities of cargo. To make one, you'll need 100x Iron Nails, 10x Deer Hide, 40x Fine Wood, and 40x Ancient Bark.

Valheim sailing guide: Sailing controls and UI

It's not clear how you're supposed to control ships in Valheim at first, but don't worry. We've got the rundown on the controls and sailing UI for you.

  • To start, head to the back of the ship to find the rudder. Press the Use Key to start using it.
  • Use W and S to control speeding up and slowing down, and use A and D for turning left and right. There are five different speed and movement options: reverse, no movement, paddling, half sail, and full sail. These are represented by the chevrons near the wheel icon as well as the icon under your minimap.
  • When you turn, the curved yellow bar around your wheel icon displays how hard you're turning left or right. The longer the bar, the harder you're turning. If you want to center your boat, turn in the opposite direction of the yellow bar.
  • Below the aforementioned icon under the map, you'll find a circular icon with a ship symbol that displays the direction of the wind in relation to your ship.
  • Press the Use Key again if you'd like to freely walk around your ship's deck or exit the vessel.
  • If you're a passenger on the deck, press the Use Key on the mast to hold onto it. This will prevent you from falling off the ship during rough sea storms.
  • On the floor of the decks of the Karve and Longship, you'll find a storage compartment. You can press the Use Key to access it.

Valheim sailing guide: Sailing tips and tricks

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Here are some tips and tricks that will help you become a master of the seas in Valheim.

  • Try and keep the wind behind your sails as much as possible. The wind enables you to move at max speed so that you can reach your destination faster.
  • If you can't avoid the wind going against your sails, lower them completely and switch to paddling. Then, execute a tacking maneuver by zigzagging your ship left and right. This will give you the best possible speed in these conditions.
  • If you're in a situation where you need better control over your ship, but you still want to stay moving relatively quickly, go to half sail. It offers a good balance between speed and handling.
  • Keep an eye out for shallow rocks and landmasses in the waters. These can damage your ship if you run into them, and they're easy to miss if you don't have your eyes peeled.
  • Only back your boat up if you have no other way out of your current position. It's very slow to do, and most of the time, you can go in the opposite direction much faster by simply turning instead.
  • You can't interact with the rudder if you're over-encumbered, so make sure you're not carrying too much before you board your vessel.

Valheim sailing guide: How to kill the sea serpent

Source: Valheim Wiki (Image credit: Source: Valheim Wiki)

Sea serpents are dangerous predators that hunt for players sailing the seas, and if you're not careful, they'll tear your vessel apart, leaving you to drown in the ocean. Here's how you can take them down without losing your precious ship and cargo.

  • A Finewood Bow (10x Fine Wood, 10x Core Wood, 2x Deer Hide) or greater with Flinthead Arrows (8x Wood, 2x Flint, 2x Feathers) or greater will be your best friend against sea serpent attacks. Quality bows equipped with quality arrows do excellent damage to the serpent, allowing you to kill it before it can cripple your ship. This is not the case for rafts, however.
  • Sail with friends for a better chance at survival. More players means more arrows that you can pelt the serpent with.
  • You can sharply sail left and right to try and evade the serpent's attacks. This won't always work, but it's a good way to mitigate as much damage as possible to give your allies on your ship more time to kill the serpent.
  • If someone in your party has the Abyssal Harpoon (8x Fine Wood, 30x Chitin, 3x Leather Scraps), it can be used to drag the sea serpent straight behind you, which gives other players an easier shot to make with their bows. You can also drag the serpent onto land, stop your boat, and kill it for its meat and scales by using the Abyssal Harpoon.
  • If you do enough damage, the serpent may decide to flee. If you notice this occurring and you don't want to hunt it down, sail directly away from it immediately.

Any questions?

Do you have any other questions about sailing in Valheim? Let me know, and I'll be happy to answer them in the comments. Also, don't miss my guide on how to build your base the right way if you're looking to improve your construction skills.

Valheim is available for $20 on Steam via Early Access now. I highly recommend you grab it if you haven't already, as it's one of the best survival games for PC available. If you do, make sure to catch our beginner's guide to your first days and beyond.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.