Exclusive Interview with Mark Wildling from Wildlings Sailing

Earlier this week we ran the first part of our series on the Wildlings and their epic adventure, sailing from North Wales to France on a boat they paid £5,500 for. Going from non sailors to live aboard sailors over the course of the past year.

We got in touch with Mark Wildling as he awaits the return of his wife, Nadiyana, from China where she is trying to secure a European visa so they can continue their adventures, and asked if he’d do a quick interview. These guys are just as great in person as they come across on video and Mark was happy to oblige.

The couple captured our imagination with their fantastic outlook on life and candid series of films on youtube and we are currently serialising their Full Episode playlist on www.extremenorthwales.com 

I urge you all to view their many other videos on youtube and please subscribe to their channel, follow them on instagram , buy them a coffee along the way via their Kofi page or even wear the T-shirt

So Mark what brought about the idea for the boat and travels? 

My parents have owned power boats since I was a baby, so I got my love of the sea from them. We spent many summers and weekends boating around the Llyn peninsula and Conwy Bay. Nadiyana had a flash of inspiration and decided to book a sailing course in Thailand (before we met) after we got together we decided we would live on a boat. It was just a pipe dream until I got promoted to manager of the school I was teaching at, we worked out that if we saved for 18 months it was financially possible to live on a boat for a few years.

Have you both always been adventure seekers? 

Nadiyana is fearless, she isn’t afraid of anything. we both owned dirt bikes in China, and she was absolutely ruthless cutting through traffic, I had to tell her off a few times! Her Dad always taught her to think outside of the box and has taken her white water rafting all around the world. Before we met she had hitchhiked around Asia. She’s always looking forward to the next adventure! I’m the same really, I lived in Thailand and China and have done a lot of traveling. 

How do you make a living or finance your adventures? 

We are very good with money, we don’t buy any luxuries, just food, fuel, boat parts and camera equipment. We are mostly living on our savings, however, our subscribers often send us money to keep us going for longer, sometimes the ‘donations’ cover our costs, but if we need to spend more time in marinas due to weather, video uploads and boat upgrades we usually go over budget. I’ve done a bit of writing for magazines too, which gives us a bit of extra pocket money.

We watched you choosing a boat in your videos, do you think you made the correct choice? 

Wildlings sailingIn terms of price, cabin space and draft (vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull) absolutely! 5,500 pounds isn’t bad for an all singing all dancing boat! We never feel too cramped and our draft means we can reach places other boats can’t, such as drying estuaries, rivers and canals. In terms of sailing speed and performance, Absolutely not! She rolls quite a lot in a swell and doesn’t cut through the waves as well as more modern boats, our English Channel crossing was a bit uncomfortable due to this. It also means we have to leave extra time to make destinations which means more time at the helm and some pretty long sails.

What advice would you give to someone who was considering doing the same thing? 

I think you have to decide that you want to do it and have complete tunnel vision to carry it out. There’s so many reasons to do it and so many reasons you can find not to. It just depends on how much you want it. You can find affordable boats, you can learn how to sail online, you can learn how to service and fix your engine without forking out. As long as you keep safety as your main priority you’ll be golden! 

What have you learned about yourselves throughout this entire process? 

mark and nadajana Wildling - wildling sailingsWe’ve learnt that we can rely on each other when things get a bit sticky, which is inevitable in a small boat on a big sea! Nadiyana has learnt that she can stay calm under pressure, she can overcome seasickness and live happily with less (but not without her extensive collection of face creams!) I’ve learned to trust my own decisions and only to take advice that I’d be willing to pay for! 

Do you have any specific interests in ecology, self sufficiency or is it a case you are just on an adventure, and do anything to get by?

I think we’re just on an adventure really, we’re naturally very resourceful and hate wasting anything whether it’s food, fuel or rubbish. We love the idea of being self sufficient and taking only what you need. We love fishing and foraging too! 

Is this some kind of gap year or two or do you see yourselves pursuing adventures full time? 

We want to keep going for as long as possible. We’re always surprised with people’s generosity and how much people are willing to give us to keep us going. We love the sea and will always be tied to it. The main goal is to continue in this boat for 2020 and depending on finances we’d like to move on to a more seaworthy boat, something that could potentially take us to the Caribbean or Asia. We don’t want to settle down in a house, the only thing we’d consider is a houseboat or canal barge! For now we’re just going to work on our online presence, writing and social media. 

What has been your scariest moment throughout the entire adventure? 

Our first night sail, crossing the channel. We left Weymouth at 2 a.m. The wind turned out to be a lot stronger than we anticipated and the moon was covered by the clouds so it was pitch black, we could hear waves crashing next to us. I still get sweaty palms thinking about it! But we’re so proud of ourselves for doing it, you can’t beat the feeling of heading into a foreign port after a rough 15 hours at sea. 

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you know now about sailing? 

Just that sailing itself is very easy, we were worried that we’d need to take expensive courses to learn, but you can self teach yourself anything. Other than that, a lot of the joy in sailing is reacting and solving different problems as they occur. 

What’s next for you guys?  

More and more videos of more and more adventures! We want to keep going for as long as possible. I can’t see us settling down anywhere for now, but if you ask us this question in a few years maybe we’ll be looking at refurbishing a canal boat to live on, who knows!! 

Will you settle in North Wales, continue traveling or return to China? 

As far as location is concerned, we’ll always be going in between the UK and China, plus my parents have a boat in Pwllheli Marina so we’re never far away.

As mentioned above, I urge you all to view their many other videos on youtube and please subscribe to their channel, follow them on instagram , buy them a coffee along the way via their Kofi page or even wear the T-shirt

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