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A Sydney shipwright turns a classic Savage 26, long revered for its seaworthiness, into a more refined and accommodating bluewater cruiser and gameboat


Built in the 1970s to mid-1980s, the Savage 26 was always a pocket gamefisher/cruiser well ahead of its time, among a range of flybridge cruisers built in Melbourne by J.J. Savage & Sons, that started with the 24 and went up to 33 feet.

Many of these boats are still around today due to bulletproof construction of handlaid glass, woven rovings and oversized bearers. The combination of a heavy, solid construction and a deep-vee make for a terrific sea boat with the handling characteristics of a much larger vessel.

The Savage 26 Restless, featured hereabouts, has undergone an extensive refurbishment and conversion by the current owner, a professional shipwright, who expects her to have a long future.

The restoration project apparently has had no time and expense spared, including converting Restless to a single engine shaft-drive setup. Gone from the engineroom are the original twin shaft-drive Chrysler petrol guzzlers, instead a single shaft-driven 330hp 6BTA Cummins diesel spinning a 1.5in shaft through a ZF gearbox to a 28in four-blade prop takes pride of place. According to the owner, Restless will now cruise all day at 18kts and can shoot to a top speed of 26kts if required.

The fuel bill is said to be light on the pocket and another benefit of the switch to a single engine is extra storage room on both sides of the block and in the lazarrette.

In the main bilge is a bright two-pack paint job that’s easy to keep clean, and all electrical wiring, pumps and plumbing have been replaced with the latest marine-grade products.

The boat’s interior has been completely revamped, and when not fishing her new design can now accommodate a couple for a weekend away.

While the generous forward vee-berth and enclosed toilet are still in position, the original lower helm has been deleted along with the forward windows and galley.

There is now a new galley with 12V fridge and ample storage, a starboardside lounge that folds out for two more that’s finished in Macro suede, plus Amtico flooring. The creature comforts also include an LCD TV and DVD player, and Clarion stereo system with iPod dock. Interior lighting is LCD throughout and has minimal draw on the two N200 house batteries.

On the flybridge, you’re out of the weather with the custom-built hardtop and three-sided clears. Here, the dash moulding has been modified to accommodate the colour chartplotter and sounder, while the VHF and 27MHz radios are tucked away in the locker. Among the new helm installations is push-button control of the Lewmar electric anchor winch, whose chain now runs through the bowroller on a custom bowsprit, keeping the ground tackle clear from scratching the newly painted hull.

But the main attraction of Restless is surely the cockpit, a huge teak-laid, self-draining area perfect for fishing or entertaining. It houses a table, a tackle station that stows away under the lazarrette hatch, and coamings fitted with Reelax rodholders and outriggers.

There’s a salt and freshwater deckwash with a separate freshwater shower to rinse off after a swim and clamber aboard the custom teak and stainless steel swimplatform with integrated swimladder.

Restless is described by her owner as a great all-rounder, whether chasing marlin out on The Shelf or entertaining inside the harbour. She is equipped with a full safety package and storm covers.

There is nothing more to spend and is she is now regrettably for sale at just a fraction of the project cost at $118,000.

The Savage 26 topped the list of the 10 Best Classics feature story in our 400th special anniversary edition of Trade-a-Boat published in April this year. This flybridge gamefisher was and still is regarded as a brilliant seaboat. A few late 1970s to early 1980s models are still around, including Restless whose recent restoration has restored this Savage 26 to her former glory and more. Originally powered by twin Chrysler petrol motors spinning twin shafts, the current owner opted for fuel efficiency with a single diesel donk spinning a single shaft drive, a combo that was originally available on this boat. The Restless project has seen her cockpit enhanced for fishing and entertaining, her interior redesigned for weekending away, plus new electronics and onboard entertainment systems. A great restoration of this fine Australian-built boat.

Savage 26

FOR SALE: $118,000
TYPE: Planing monohull
MATERIAL: Handlaid glass
LENGTH: 26ft
BEAM: 9ft5in
DRAFT: 2ft8in
WEIGHT: 4.5 tonnes
ENGINE: Cummins 6BTA diesel (460 hours)
RATE HP: 330
FUEL: 500lt
WATER: 180lt
CONTACT: Michael, phone 0414 896 905 or email:


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