I have a recurring dream that I would like to understand better. Some things in the dream change, but certain parts never change. First, my brother (who passed away) asks me when I am going to visit him. Then, I am commandeering a boat on a lake, trying to find and rescue my daughter. I am nervous because I don’t know how to drive the boat, and it’s extremely windy. Then, my brother steps onboard and takes over the boat, and I feel so relieved. I understand why I am dreaming about my daughter so much. There are things going on in her life that have me very worried about her. But why all of the rest?
Unless the dreamer has recently gone fishing or on a sea cruise, dreaming of being on a boat/navigating a boat is usually symbolic of a journey, mission, or course in life—and can also serve as a symbol for the search for direction in life, as well as for the challenges individuals face while making their way on their “voyage” through life. Traditionally, boats are symbols which are closely linked to life because boats are vehicles which travel exclusively through water and, in dreams, water is one of the most significant and classic symbols for life—not only because water is the source of all life, but also because water sustains all life and, like life, is fluid and ever-changing.
Furthermore, boats are also a symbol for security, because they “carry”/transport us through the water (life) to stable land. Thus, the dreamer’s recurring voyages to search for and rescue her daughter are, most likely, a reflection of her attempts to navigate through this difficult period of her life (with respect to her daughter)—as well as a reflection of the fact that she is not certain that she can navigate on her own and feels a strong desire for assistance and guidance. It appears that the deceased brother is, most likely, a symbol for someone who provided assistance and guidance—since, when he takes over the navigation of the boat, this causes the dreamer to “feel so relieved”.
After communicating with the dreamer, it was learned that she had a close relationship with this brother—greatly valuing his opinions and advice and relying heavily upon him for support and instruction. As a result, whenever she feels particularly in need of assistance with life’s difficulties, it makes sense that he would come through as a symbol of such in her dreams. In the dreamer’s waking life, he had always “stepped onboard” and helped her to solve her issues—or assisted her in seeing them from a different perspective. Therefore, his taking over the navigation of the boat is, most probably, a symbol of her desire for him (or someone else) to assist with navigating her through the current difficulties with her daughter.
The fact that the voyage is “windy” is also significant in terms of symbolism. Wind is often a symbol for uncertain, unstable, and unpredictable situations in life due to its ability to change direction at a moment’s notice—and due to its ability to blow a vessel off-course. This sense of unpredictability and feeling of being unable to control or “drive the boat” is, most likely, a reflection of the uncertainty and instability that the dreamer feels over the situation with her daughter in her conscious world. As long as the dreamer continues to feel out of control and uncertain about this issue in her waking life, the dream may continue to resurface (recur) as a subconscious means of working out or calling attention to the inner angst. However, the fact that the boat is sturdy and hasn’t capsized—as well as the fact that the dreamer is still on the boat and “at the wheel” in each dream—are both extremely positive symbols, indicating that the dreamer is continuing to handle the situation and still has a consistent measure of control. Her brother asking her to visit—and then stepping onboard and taking control of the boat in each dream—is, undoubtedly, a reflection of her desire for his lost company and leadership.