The new Savage 380 Big Boy is an addition to the respected line-up of boats that Mercury Marine have under their umbrella and the compact 20hp four-stroke on the transom, released in May 2008, was a welcome addition to Brunswick Corporation's engine line up.
As I stepped into the neat fishing rig I reflected that both boat and motor were sure to be well-received in the local fishing scene. The size was right, performance was right and the price was right.
It didn’t take long for the potential of the rig to come through. I saw it as the sort of craft that either a beginner to boating could start off with or as one which a seasoned boater/angler would opt for to fulfil a specific purpose: perhaps as a tender, a smooth-water fishing rig, or to get stuck into some of those tasty crabs that are a feature of Summer.
It would tow behind the family sedan with ease, be a piece of cake for one person to launch and retrieve and is ideal as a basic, no-frills rig to get on the water without breaking the bank. The latter aspect, of course, is very important these days.
I was impressed with the stability and easy-going performance of the high-sided, 1.83m-wide Savage 380 Big Boy. Its four-adult occupant rating, level flotation and good manners were equalled by Mercury's quiet, willing long-shaft 20hp four-stroke, an ideal match.
The 380m Big Boy is the sort of boat that maximises beam for length, giving the rig a huge ability to carry some mighty good payloads in the form of anglers and their gear, or a useful stack of crab pots along with some folk to tend them.
The Big Boy is a strong, pressed-alloy craft. It's fully welded, which certainly minimises vibration, and has very strong cross ribs to ensure rigidity.
It comes with a number of angler-friendly features. Up front there's a very strong and well-constructed foredeck with bow rails to which one could tie the anchor rope or use to manhandle the craft around the ramp.
There is a storage shelf under the foredeck for PFDs and some spare clothing, tucker and the like.
There's a wide forward thwart for a couple of anglers and the anchor could easily go on the floor ahead of this or be tucked up under the foredeck. Floor depth on this seat was more than adequate, which ensures plenty of comfort if seated there for some time.
The Savage Big Boy features a full floor, which is certainly a big plus. When it comes to moving about freely or locating an item, the flat level floor is certainly appreciated. Ever tipped over a tackle box in a tinny without a floor? One sinker left undiscovered can be the start of some galvanic action.
The Big Boy's aft thwart is at just the right place to make tiller steering easy and offers a wide seating area with plenty of leg room.
There was ample room aft of the thwart to slip a tote tank for the engine. Large side grab rails plus a set of small handles on the transom corners add to the security while a near-full-height transom enhances the sea-keeping ability.
The engine is a four-stroke, two-cylinder, 351cc model that weighs just 53kg.
It kicked into life at first pull on the starter cord and then hummed away sweetly with the telltale spray hitting the water just about the only sound until revs increased. With 25 litres of fuel and two adults aboard the Big Boy went very well, planing quite happily at 8 knots (15kmh), cruising at 15 knots (27.5km) and wide open throttle recording 21.7 knots (40.3kmh) on the hand-held GPS.
With a quick twist of the throttle, the Merc revealed plenty of mid-range punch yet was surprisingly quiet. A useful vibration damping system keeps any vibes away from the tiller handle.
The ride was much as one might expect from a 3.80m tinny. There was some noise as we crossed wash at speed and a bit of an impact but not excessive due to the fine bow entry. The slight hull vee, longitudinal pressings and 5cm deep keel kept the rig right on track, even when thrown around for a bit of fun.
For a first-timer, especially one with youngsters, the Big Boy 380 and 20hp Mercury would be a very useful combination. A side height of over 1m would certainly offer a lot of peace of mind for Mum or Dad while the Merc would keep running costs to a minimum and the five-year limited warranty would be reassuring.
This is a no-frills, no-fuss rig. What you see is what you get but for the money, a mere $8121 as tested (excluding dealer delivery and freight), it's a lot of boat.
For impoundment, river, estuary or bay work in the right conditions, the 380 Big Boy would be ideal. The 20 Mercury four-stroke has 3-star VELS rating for ultra-low emissions and is also available with a multi-function tiller featuring the gear shift in the handle and other convenient controls. Power tilt and electric start models are also available.
|Hull construction||marine alloy|
|Power||20hp to 25hp|
|Test engine||20hp Mercury four-stroke.|
|Fuel||25L tote tank.|
|Towing||Family sedan or wagon.|