My name is Zoe Moreland and I am a 38 year old housewife and mother of two. I am also a member of County Antrim Paddle Sports (C.A.P.S) Club. Canoeing is not my passion it’s my husbands, and until recently my role had involved helping to lift boats, play taxi, feeding, dressing kids etc and had only ever been in a boat with my husband and kids. I never really thought of myself having the ability to paddle and had many reservations about learning to paddle. I really only became a member because of my husband’s decreasing mobility and our children’s increasing interest.
C.A.P.S is very much a family affair, with sisters, partners, parents and their children making up the majority of our club members. As I mentioned at the beginning, paddling is not my passion, but C.A.P.S isn’t just about paddling; it’s about family and friends. It was during one of the clubs family days out, that an idea came about as myself and another mother joked, the trip would maybe be a lot more enjoyable without the constant call of mummy from the kids. The idea was to plan a trip away without the kids, in fact to ditch the men too and have a women only trip.
Over the next few weeks a plan was made. Marion, a coach and leader in C.A.P.S would take us on an all female club paddle and overnight camp to Coney Island on the South East shore of Lough Neagh. Our trip was to be fun, nontaxing and open to all abilities. Out of the seven adult female members in our club, four of us had signed up for the trip.
As we stood on the bank unloading the boats and packing our things I was anxious, everyone had some level of paddling ability but me. I had never been paddling without the guidance of my husband and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I soon realised it didn’t matter, we all seemed to know what needed done and the boats were quickly packed and we were on our way. It was a beautiful quiet day, the waters were still and the banks seemed to be teaming with life, we were all in high spirits talking nothing of consequence as we set of across the Lough towards Coney Island.
Having shrugged of the parental responsibilities I was free to wholly take on board the full experience of an adventure with other wives, mothers and sisters just like me. I even picked up a lot of paddling tips, which gave me a sense of achievement and has since set in motion an interest in canoeing. Marion has taken it as her mission to have me paddle a canoe solo, a challenge I am more open to since our trip. During club meetings I have realised it is important to take time away from the group, where I am free to embrace Marion’s passion and enthusiasm for paddling and take some of it on board.
As to the Island, all I can say is, “it was beautiful and the warden Peter was very friendly”. Other than that, “What happens on the Island, stays on the Island”.