What Do Dreams of Boats Mean?

5 Min Read | By Nicholas Barber

Last Modified 14 February 2024   First Added 7 November 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What Is The Meaning Behind Boats in Dreams?

Dreams of boats and boating on water are commonly said to represent that you’re going on a spiritual journey. They can symbolise adventure, exploration, new love, and indicate that your life could soon be open to many exciting new possibilities.

More specifically, boat dreams can highlight you have a strong desire to travel, to take a break from your current reality, and experience something new, according to Millers Guild. The dream can also be interpreted as your longing for peace and happiness.

In this article we look in detail at what dreaming of boats could mean to your waking life.

The dream:

The world-famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is about to begin and you are in the hot seat as cox of the Cambridge crew. After months of intensive training you’re ready and raring to go.

The starting gun is fired and you bellow “oars away” at the top of your voice to urge your team forward. And you’re off! As the cox, your role is to follow the race plan, steer the boat, and coordinate the power and rhythm of your rowers to drive them to victory.

“Row, row, row harder!” you yell. Everything is going to plan and your boat quickly pulls ahead. Your team is giving their all and in what seems like a flash, you’re nearing the finish.

Your boat crosses the finish line in record time to the sound of huge cheers echoing along the river bank. Finishing an incredible 20 lengths ahead of Oxford, you have just made history as coxswain of the fastest Boat Race crew in the history of the contest.

Then you wake up. It was all just a very exciting and vivid dream. But just what could it mean?

Meaning(s) of the dream:


Whether you’re piloting a boat yourself, riding in a boat, or sailing in your dreams, all these variations have very different meanings. Here, we explore the most popular boating dreams in more detail:

1. Dreams about being in a boat

The driver of a boat is known as a helmsman. This roles requires steering the vessel, and you also need to check on the compass, waves, the wind direction, the sails, and the heel of the boat. A lot to consider! In dreams, helming a boat relates to our intuition, mostly about navigation, according to Aunty Flo. If you have this dream consider, “Where is your boat going? How are you navigating through life? How are you maneuvering through the adverse conditions that you find yourself in?

2. Dreams about sailing in a boat.

Dreaming about sailing a boat is said to indicate new beginnings. Are you planning to begin a new project, or considering beginning a new relationship? If so, this dream encourages you to do so.

Taking this further, Dreams Directory says, “Sailing a boat in dream signifies poise and balance in your life or the need to regain balance. You like to keep things moving along. You need to look at things from a different view or approach your problems from a new angle in order to successfully move forward.”

3. Dreams about a boat capsizing

According to My Dream Symbolism, if you ever dream of a boat sinking it can indicate problems which are overwhelming you in your waking life and it can sometimes highlight having too many negative emotions.

4. Dreams about a boat on the sea

Have you ever dreamed about being on a boat on the ocean? If so it means that you’ll have many opportunities in the future and you should use them, according to Dreaming and Sleeping. Diving deeper, if the sea the boat is on is rough and choppy, it’s said to mean you could experience some risky business and other risky situations.

Answering the dream:

Dreams about boats can represent your life journey. They can reveal that you long for a simple life, an adventure, or even protection. Perhaps you’re exhausted by the challenges of your waking life, be it work or family related, and are pining to count your blessings.

However, according to My Dream Symbolism, boat dreams can also indicate problems you cannot easily solve, or simply abandon. “A boat in a dream might also indicate the level of control over your emotions. It might indicate your ability to deal with negative emotions and situations. It might also indicate the way you are confronting your problems.”

Notable appearances in popular culture:

Today boating is more popular than ever, with hit TV shows such as the BBC’s Canal Boat Diaries highlighting the attraction of the UK’s waterways. According to the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) there are about 80,000 powered boats across the waterways of England, Scotland and Wales. In March 2021, 35,130 UK residents had boat licences for rivers and canals – compared with 34,435 in 2020 and 32,490 in 2012.

Surveys put the proportion of people who “liveaboard” at around 25% in 2021 (a rise from 15% in 2011) nationally. According to The Guardian, rising house prices and restrictions on overseas travel have led to a rise in popularity for houseboats and there are now more boats on canals and rivers than in the 18th century.

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