AROUND two hours’ drive north of Sydney is a spot that has bypassed the ravages of time, the township of Budgewoi, where locals still say g’day and are genuinely interested in you.
Milkshakes are made from a bottle of fresh milk and the local takeaway puts out a hamburger that’s a complete meal. I was there to conduct a boat test on one of the new Savages at Central Coast Boatworld, run by husband-and-wife team, Greg and Dorothy Ellery.
It had been over a year since I last visited and the place had been extended, with a flash retail area for all the nick-knacks boaties demand and a much-improved display yard. Plans are also under way to extend the workshop to include a new fit-up bay.
Central Coast Boatworld is unique in that it has in the yard its own deep-water launching ramp directly into Budgewoi Creek. Every boat sold comes with on-water training. At least two hours of hands-on instruction is given so new boat buyers will have complete confidence when they take their pride and joy to the boat ramp solo for the very first time.
After a cuppa to catch up on the local goss, Greg and I launched the new Savage Centurion 4.8m cuddy cab. This hard-chine boat was powered by a brand-new Mariner 75hp two-stroke spinning a standard 17” stainless steel prop, a combination that worked well. First impressions were that the boat looked very solid with plenty of glass and nice rolled edges. There was a new dash support across and above the entrance to the cuddy to stop lateral flexing, a new feature Savage has initiated. Flexing can lead to gelcoat cracks which, although they cause no damage, are unsightly.
The deep transom well allowed the motor to fully tilt, important for moored boats that need the leg up and away from corrosive salt water. Two rear cleats provided anchorage for mooring ropes and I’m sure keen anglers would appreciate the four standard rod holders. There are stern rails for a hand hold but they run for only about a metre. A small drained well in front of the motor is too small for a live-bait tank but is ideal, when filled with ice, as a drink cooler.
The two rear quarter seats are not usually ideal for fishing but the squabs can be removed, giving access right to the transom for fighting hard-running fish. There are small grab rails for passenger security. I was impressed with the full-length pockets for storing rods, gaffs, boat hooks and paddles. The side pocket bracing brackets have a cut-out for support so rods are secured when under way.
The two pedestal seats are comfortable and the skipper’s chair can be slid forward or back. There is no height adjustment. The passenger has their own shelf for personal items while the skipper has a pocket for all their paraphernalia. The four-piece windscreen (including sides) is strutted and strong and can be used for holding onto in bumpy seas. A forward-opening segment allows access to the anchor well but is a bit squeezy for a big lad like me.
The small cuddy cab will sleep two small kids on the bunk cushions and an option is the infill, making this area into a small double bed. Under the cushions is plenty of storage, but beware: This area does get water intrusion so think about what’s stored there. Standing up on the cushions, the hatch is easy to open and a crew member can work the anchor with ease and security. There is a small platform just aft of the strong cross-bollard that can accommodate a power anchor winch for all those who loathe the hard work of pulling up the pick. A bow roller completes the hardware up forward.
The seating position for driving was excellent with good visibility over the windscreen. The throttle quadrant was just at the right height for total control without getting a tired arm. The dash has moulded segments ready to accept instrumentation and there is plenty of room for add-on electronics.
With useable cabin room of 2.1 metres x 1.65 metres, there is plenty of space for passengers to move about without getting in each other’s way. Marine carpet protected a very stable floor which, I would guess, is constructed from thick marine ply, glassed over to seal and waterproof.
Coaming height was 680mm, high enough to lock into when fishing and to keep young ones well inside the boat. The starboard rear squab seat hides the off-floor battery, isolating switch and water-separating filter. There is no bilge pump supplied as standard but it can be dealer-fitted – something I strongly recommend. A four-way switch panel comes with three switches free for auxiliaries such as radio and sounder. One switch is taken for the standard navigation lights.
On all upward-facing surfaces, such as the coamings and transom top, there was flush anti-slip pads – a nice touch and a strong safety feature.
After travelling at four knots in the channel, I hit the throttle and took the boat out on the lake for a spin. Trim played a big part in getting lightness back to the wheel. The Mariner gurgled away happily on the back and even though it was running on 25:1 premix (as it was brand-new), there was no sign of smoke at idle or on acceleration. The boat lapped up the calm water and the only bumps I could make were the wake. The heavy hull went over the pressure waves with hardly a bounce in the cockpit.
There is a lot of go-forward in the Savage as it contains plenty of fibreglass. This pays off on the water as it gives the boat momentum and weight to cut through short, sharp chop. In corners the boat leaned over with plenty of grip and the motor showed no indication of over-revving, a phenomenon that happens when air is trapped around the prop.
Out of the hole, the nose kept down and the Savage was on the plane in an instant. In reverse, there was no danger from water intrusion into the transom well. At rest, I was very impressed by the lack of lean when Greg and I moved to one side. This is due to very wide, stepped chines which give the boat stability for fishing as well as lift. When cruising and properly trimmed, the boat maintained our heading with both hands off the wheel.
Standard gauges like tacho, trim and hour meter gave continuous status on the mechanical side of things and there was no problem monitoring the fuel in the two standard 25-litre free-standing fuel tanks. I would opt for a 70-litre under-floor tank with a fuel gauge for extra range and a little less deck clutter.
All in all, a very good package that would suit the keen angler right through to the family that fishes, picnics and does a bit of towing tubes or skiing. The boat comes complete with a fully-rollered, galvanised Dunbier trailer and Central Coast Boatworld is now open seven days a week for all your boating requirements – it’s worth the trip to Budgewoi just to turn back the clock and remember what life was like back in the good old days.
Savage Centurion 4.8m
Length (hull only)4.8m
Length (boat, motor, trailer)6.25m
Height on trailer (no bimini)2.10m
Max weight on transom175kg
Max number of people5
S/S bow roller; Split cross bollard; Self-draining anchor well; Forward storage; Forward hatch, bunk cushions; Walk-thru windscreen; Cabin backrest; Battery storage; Cutting board lid; Aft cleats; Deluxe pedestal seats; Helm seat slider; Aft quarter seats; 4 rod holders; Live bait well; navigation lights; Side shelves; 2 ski hooks; Split bow rail; Cabin windows; Switch panel; Marine carpet; Bimini
Tonneau cover; Bunk infill; Marlin boards; Transom ladder; GPS; sounder; 27 meg radio; aerials.
Price as tested$23,990* drive-away.
*This includes fully-rollered Dunbier trailer with submersible lights, all registrations, safety gear, on-water instruction plus local help and service.
Boat supplied by Central Coast Boatworld, 19 Lake Street, Budgewoi, NSW 2262. Phone/Fax (02) 4399 3568. Proprietors: Greg and Dorothy Ellery.Reads: 8518