Moving a boat around a seascape

This is more of an idea than something I’m working on but I thought I’d ask anyway.
I’m still learning blender and have just followed an excellent tutorial on building a realistic seascape using a plane with wave modifiers and animated textures - . After completing it I thought about adding a small boat or raft to the scene and was wondering if there is a way to get the boat’s Z position to follow the wave as you move it across the surface of the plane instead of manually keying every position, meaning you would then only have to add small rotations to achieve a reasonable looking effect. I figure that if the boat’s position remains fixed then you could parent it to a specific vertex on the sea plane to achieve this effect, but how do you go about it when moving the craft across the scene. Blender is so versatile I thought that there must be a way of doing this but it is beyond my experience. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance Blender heads, you really are a helpful and courteous bunch of folks and this forum is proving invaluable to my learning.

You might want to look at the shrinkwrap modifiers. It can project a curve onto a surface. As the surface changes, the curve will re-conform every frame.

If you want a bouy like effect where an object stays in place while the waves move around it, look into vertex parenting.

I did a car driving on waves here:


Here is an example -

Basically, it uses the vertex parenting mentioned by Atom. In addition, I have added limit location and limit rotation constraints to the boat (cube), then animated the influence of the constraints over time.

So, as the cube is away from the center of the wave modifier, the constraint influences are max (1.0). As the cube approaches the center, the influence of the constraints are decreased, allowing the parenting to effect the location and rotation. As the cube moves to the other side, the influence of the constraints are increased again.

I hope this helps - Best of Luck!


wave_001.blend (62 KB)