Monday, June 23, 2014

Redang June 2014

We covered the 20 miles to Redang from Bidong/Gelok Islands in a morning and went all the way to the top of the island to anchor in the NE bay, to shelter from the forecast SW winds.  This bay has two very fine, white sand beaches, one private for The Taaras Resort, and the other is the public beach.  The public beach gets used a lot by locals and the fishermen here and would be a developer's wet dream!  Gorgeous, clear, clean water and soft, white sandy beach backed by coconut palms....what more could you ask for?

 What a beach, what a view, what water!  And lots of turtles around here.  The beaches on the east and north of Redang are green turtle egg-laying beaches and we saw the tracks and nests of their efforts.  Turtles pop up all around the boat all day long.  You can hear them exhale and often just see the swirl and splash as they go back down to munch on the sparse growth in the sand.
  The private resort, The Taaras, in the NE bay of Redang.  They let us use their floating dock to tie up the dinghies and get water.  We would walk through the resort to get to the road that led to the village in the valley you can see.  Rooms here go for $250-750/night.  That's insanely expensive for Malaysia!  But the bay is wonderful protection and beautiful place to sit and relax.  And get wifi!
 This is the new mini-mart under construction.  It is considered the 'best on the island', but the stock was skimpy and the building was still pretty raw and dirty.  It got a little better every day.  Ordering veges here was a major disappointment and we had to make do with our old provisions on the boat.
 The pool at The Taaras.  Fully clothed Muslim women and a bikini-clad guest on a lounge chair made quite a contrast.
 Mama goat and her kids resting on a tiny ledge of a foundation.  Lots of goats roamed here and they threw watermelons into a n empty field to feed them.
 Heather and Mark at one of the local restaurants we ate at ashore.  It was cheaper to buy dinner than to cook on the boat.
 Katma and Ishta at the restaurant where Katma's daughter works part time.  Katma gave us papayas and mangoes.  We bought a bunch of bananas from her and struck up a friendship.  We got several batches of papaya from her as I was tall enough to reach the fruit if I stood on a chair.  Ishta grew up in an English-speaking home and is here as a volunteer teaching English.  She is one of the very few women not wearing the traditional head scarf, too.
Mark, Jason, Karen, Katma, Ishta, and Heather at dinner in the village on Redang.
You're looking at the sea bed nearly 30' down--all sand here.  You can see our anchor chain and the attendant squid--those little black marks.
 More squid shots.  They love to hang out in formation near the chain and the boat.  People eat a lot of squid here, too, so they must be prevalent as well as tasty.  I have some squid jigs on the boat, but catching and cleaning them would entail dealing with their ink and it stains something fierce, so I don't bother.  Better to have someone else deal with it and buy a meal for under $2 to get it.
 A closeup of a squid by the boat.  These ones are pretty small.
 The fishing boats come in and anchor or pick up moorings near the shore here.  They leave at dusk and come back at dawn.
 More fishing boats surround Ajax before a forecast of SW squalls.  This bay offers good protection.  We were treated to quite the light show from electrical storms all around.  One day the entire island lost power because of a storm and we couldn't get the phones or internet to work at all.
 Pinang Island, just off the southern tip of Redang.  This is the Marine Park and we are on one of their moorings here.  We snorkeled to the shore over the coral gardens, but only after looking all ways for incoming boat traffic.  They zoom everywhere they go here, no slow speeds for them.  The wakes that the bigger boats put out are enough to rock the boat and one big wake washed a set of tools right off the transom steps.  We had to dive to 30' to recover them.  Luckily, the water is clear enough to see the bottom so we could find them and could hold our breath long enough to snorkel down to get them.
 Around the other side of Pinang, where the tourists are dropped off to snorkel.
 A couple of tour boats tied off to a mooring in front of the tourist snorkel beach.  When three of them decided to speed away at full throttle at the same time, we got that wake that washed our tools off the boat.  The tour boat drivers are plenty rude and inconsiderate here.  They seem to think its funny to push a big wake at yachts.
 The big orange mooring is the one Ajax picked up later in the afternoon, but had to get off it as it kept banging their hull so they couldn't sleep.
 The tourist jetty drop off point.  They don't let tourists use fins here to snorkel with.  I think they're afraid they'll kick or stand on the coral and damage it.   The way the tourists thrashed around in the water, they're probably right.  We were careful with ours, but needed them to get to/from the boat to shore.
 The mega-yacht we anchored near in this turtle nesting area.  They were very noisy and broke out the jet ski and zoomed around to annoy us all before they picked up and motored off in the late afternoon.
 Our view of the snorkel area here on eastern Redang from our anchorage spot.  We snorkeled to the beach from here and it was lovely.
 Our view of the rocky headland from our anchorage point here.  Nothing in the caves except coral rubble and rocks.  But beautiful coral fringes the shoreline here.
 Testing the self-timer on this new camera.
 Yep, the self-timer works.  And gave me just enough time to run back to my deck chair and plop into a relaxed pose.
 Two turtle watchers/research workers came by the boat in the morning and asked us not to use our anchor lights if we stayed another night.  The light might confuse the turtles.  They'd been 'on watch' all night to gather the turtle eggs laid to take to the research center/hatchery.  They are about the size and shape and texture of ping pong balls.
 The workers estimated they'd gathered about 200 eggs from the few turtles that laid them last night.  They claim about ten turtles per night will lay their eggs here until October.  Those 5-gallon buckets come in so handy for so many things.....
 Turtle tracks up and back from a nesting site.
 More turtle tracks.
 A turtle nest where eggs were laid.  They lug themselves up the beach, dig pits with their flippers, lay their eggs and then scoop the sand back over them.  Then they crawl back to the water and disappear, leaving the eggs to Mother Nature to handle.  The beaches here are fairly steep and it seems like such hard work to drag themselves up above the high-water mark to get to a nesting site!  Any females that survive to maturity will return to this same beach to lay their eggs.  Males never return to the shore.
 Jason near some nesting sites.  Humps and pits were everywhere on this beach.  The sand went from quartz-like gravel at one end to very fine, soft, white sand at the other.  Nests were all along the beach, so perhaps the turtles don't know the difference.
 The turtle researchers hut set back behind a line of turtle nests.
 More tracks on the beach.  One turtle must've been confused as the track wanders sideways a bit.  It's such a hard slog to drag themselves on the sand that we don't think it was just touring for the sake of it.
 Jason on the beach.  YOLO in the background.  You can see the fresh track that leads all the way to the sea.  Older tracks get partially washed away by the tides each day.
 A fresh track that goes in or out of the sea.
 Jason following a track.
 You can see how many turtles go onto this beach by the tracks left behind.  That one that swerves was a wandering mother, looking for a good place to lay her eggs.  The track led to the rocks at the end of the beach and then turned again.  The tracks from last night go all the way to the water; others are partially washed away.
 YOLO anchored off the east coast of Redang.  It was a beautiful coral garden to snorkel over to reach shore here.
 Lots of caves in the rocky shoreline.
 You could get into some of these caves, but nothing of interest was inside and they weren't very big.
 Beautiful water along the cave-pocked shore.
 The sun wasn't yet over the top of the hills when we were snorkeling here in the morning.
 Cool looking caves, eh?
 Could a pirate have hidden his booty in one of these stashes?
 This one was big enough to go into, but we didn't.
 We moved around to the turtle sanctuary bay on the NW of Redang.  This one was another pretty bay with nice snorkeling.  Ashore were university students in a building in the trees.  They made a lot of noise and it sounded like they were having fun during the day.  They didn't come out to the beach to challenge us, even though the literature we'd read said they discourage visitors ashore as this is another egg-laying beach for the turtles.  Lots of turtle nests were staked out and covered with wire mesh; we think it may be to prevent other turtles from digging up the nests by mistake. Or they could be where the eggs are relaid after gathering from elsewhere.  We aren't sure and nobody came out to talk to us as we walked the shoreline looking for shells.
 It was another long snorkel to shore from here but the sandy anchorage area was pretty small; most of the bay is coral.  We got a squally wind early the next morning and pulled up and left before we were blown over the coral.  We returned to the bay on the NE of Redang.  We really quite like that bay.
 Checking out what look like sandy areas for possible anchoring as we circumnavigated the island.  The waters here are so clear, you can see the sand and coral, but depths and lack of adequate swing room for anchoring kept us from staying here.  The sudden violent winds and rain squalls that pop up from the west caught our attention early with the near-disaster at Bidong, so we try to make sure we have plenty of scope for handling the sudden yanks and direction changes when one of them hits.
We came back to the NE Bay and filled our tanks and buckets with water from the resort.  Sure enough, that night, it poured rain.  I'd aired out my closet to ferret out a musty garment--a vest for cold weather--and I'd washed it.  Jason took it to shore to triple rinse it and hung it out on the lifelines.  The strong, sudden gusts took away in the night and we never saw it again!  You can see the bottom clearly here, and I snorkeled around when another wind gust blew a water tub overboard the next day and I had to jump in to get it, but I couldn't spot it anywhere.  Just turtles and abandoned mooring lines and nets on the bottom.  But our anchor was well-set and we sleep soundly knowing we are safe in this bay.  That's a good feeling!

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