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Savage Scorpion SL 500
  |  First Published: September 2003



THE SELECTION of specialised boats on the market these days is immense, but the majority of boats sold are still everyday runabouts used by anglers. Anchoring in the river with a few yabbies out the back of the boat waiting for the odd bream, whiting or flathead to come along is a tradition in most estuaries around the country. While the species may change from south to north, the 5m Savage Scorpion Runabout has a lot to offer anglers from all areas.

Savage has been around for over a hundred years and that’s a lot of history for what has been a family-owned business until recently. Mercury Marine now owns Savage Boats, and it’s reassuring to see in this latest release that they have continued along the lines of a quality aluminium boat. Some major work has gone into new hull designs to bring them up to speed with modern innovations, with the SL hull marking a significant change in Savage’s hull design.

HULL CHANGES

The SL hull has two distinct differences from the standard range of hulls. The flattened chine and the transom design incorporate a full waterline bottom sheet. What this means to the average eye is that there is no pod as such, being replaced with that bottom sheet that now runs right to the transom where the engine is mounted. This significantly improves the lift, buoyancy and stability of the boat so you end up with a more efficient hull on the water. You’ll find that the boat lifts easily and quickly onto the plane due to the increased surface area of the hull in contact with the water, and it maintains a level ride.

On the other end of the scale you can slow right down and the boat stays on the plane at lower speeds, making it better suited for those rough days when you need to travel slower.

The flattened chine is something that you don’t see on a lot of pressed alloy boats. This is the section of the hull where the sides of the boat come down and meet the waterline under section of the hull. Instead of the bottom sheet coming straight up to meet the sides, it changes angle, flattening out before it joins up with the sides. This increases stability and improves the steering and handling of the boat along with generating a bit more lift. Usually the chine should be about level with the water line on this style of boat with an average load on. If this is too high out of the boat the boat can tend to be unstable, having too much buoyancy. On the other hand, if it sits too far in the water the boat may be a real slug in the water. The Scorpion, without any load on at all, saw the chine about 2cm above the water line at the transom. By the time the average load is placed in the boat she should sit pretty well spot on.

RIDE AND HANDLING

Powering up with the 70hp Yamaha two-stroke on the boat there’s no problems getting underway and you don’t have to work the engine very hard to achieve a comfortable speed.

There are many benefits of fuel-injected outboards and four-strokes, but what isn’t attractive to many boaters is the extra few thousand dollars added onto the cost. It’s for this reason that we see a lot of these runabout style boats fitted with standard two-stroke outboards. A lot of the time the boat isn’t going to travel long distances so it’s not like an offshore boat where 200 litres are used on a single trip and fuel efficiency is important. The 70hp three cylinder two-stroke Yamaha, like the smaller 60hp, is in fact a very good engine. These motors have proved themselves over many years to be real workhorses and ultra-reliable. I’ve had two 60hp engines and 70hp in the past that all clocked up a lot of hours over their years, and I never had one problem. Regular servicing, a little home maintenance and clean fuel are the keys.

From memory, the 70hp on my old 5m Savage Pacific centre console used about 12L an hour under average use. The under floor tank on the Scorpion holds 60L so that’s five good hours on the plane. There’s plenty of room inside for an additional 24L totter tank for spare fuel, which is always a good idea to keep in the boat.

CONSTRUCTION AND LAYOUT

Before we go around and have a look at the layout of this boat it is worth keeping in mind the fit up on this boat when comparing prices. When I see how some boats are put together these days I shake my head at the short cuts.

Take a look around the Scorpion and you see heavy-duty rivets or stainless nuts, bolts and screws used – and they’re not little ones either. Boats are often a long-term investment in pleasure and it’s these simple things that see the boat in good shape a decade or more down the track, still giving the owner plenty of pleasurable use.

All the bow, side and stern rails are made of polished stainless steel that’s well and truly fixed to the gunwales. There is a full external keel as well as an internal keel. Have a look at the framework under the floor of a Savage boat if you ever get the chance and you’ll be impressed. It’s all the little things that add up to making the boat reliable for a long time.

These days the cabins and consoles on most of the Savage range are moulded fibreglass which allows for rounder, better flowing lines that look good as well as being practical when it comes to comfort when you’re moving around the boat. There are no hard square edges to bump into.

The runabout style boat has a windscreen at the front, a small amount of storage under the bow and a full back deck with the room to fish. It’s a practical layout for a general days’ boating.

The Scorpion has good wide side decks which run the length of the boat, adding to the strength and giving you somewhere to park a check on if you desire while dropping a line over the side.

The proper seating though is two swivel seats at the helm and a two-section folding rear bench seat. With the rear seat you can opt to have one half up and one down, both down or both up.

Behind this seat we see a service shelf running the width of the transom. On one side the battery is housed in its box and the other the fuel primer and filter. It was reassuring to see the fuel filter on the opposite side to the battery. (I don’t know how many times I see the fuel filter right above the battery. Where do they think that fuel goes when you drain the bowl?)

Up at the helm the windscreen and bulkhead is split with a centre walk-through section like you would normally see on a bow rider. The reason for this is that it allows you to walk with ease right up to the bow to drop anchor or to get in and out of the boat. Either side of this is the storage with a raised bulkhead off the floor to stop any items sliding back down onto your feet while travelling.

Wynnum Marine had fitted to the windscreen a nice folding canopy including removable side curtains. In this format, once you are inside you are protected from the wind and elements. When I see this I always picture Nan and Pop sitting in here with a flask of tea, boiled fruitcake and a couple of old rods stick out over the back. It’s a great way to spend your retirement days.

The SL Savage Scorpion is a beaut boat. The improvements in the hull design have increased the efficiency of the boat and the revamp of the top half has improved the appeal and useability of the boat. At 5m it is an easily managed rig and, should you think that it’s just a little too big for you, have a look at the 480 Ranger – it’s virtually the same boat, just smaller.

I have to admit, the boats in the new line-up from Savage are pretty smart.

BMT package price: $25,995. Test boat supplied by Wynnum Marine ph. (07) 3396 9777.

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model - Savage SL 500 Scorpion

Construction - pressed alloy

Length - 5.0m

Beam - 2.10m

Weight - 408kg (hull only)

Max hp - 90

Bottom - 3mm

Sides - 2mm

Fuel - 60L underfloor

Length on trailer - 6.3m

Height on trailer - 2.0m

Height on trailer with canopy - 2.4m

Flotation - underfloor polyurethane blocks

1) The new line-up of Savage SL series boats has seen a number of refinements to the hull and improved layout.

2) Yamaha’s 70hp two stroke outboard has proved to be ultra reliable over the years and is quite at home on the transom of the Scorpion.

3) Not much to the rear folding seats, but they are ideal for this type of rig.

4) Plenty of aft deck to fish here. The addition of a canopy and side curtains provide shade, protection from the wind and keep the night air off.

5) The walk-through windscreen up to the anchor makes boating easier for many.

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