By: Bernard Clancy, Photography by: Ellen Dewar

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The new family oriented fibreglass Tasman 5.2 Cuddy Cabin is built by Whittley under licence to Savage, retaining a lot of the latter’s famous and time honoured hull features, writes Bernard Clancy


The name Savage is synonymous with Australian boating and in fact, the brand has been around for more than 100 years, so the company knows what's wanted in a family boat.

Unusually, Savage has a range of both fibreglass and aluminium trailerboats - the tinnies with glass decks. But there is one common denominator through all Savage's cuddy styles and that's the very popular 'fliptop' walkthrough to the anchor well where both the central windscreen panel and a central panel in the cuddy top fold out to make an open walkway forward. No hands and knees stuff crawling forward through the cuddy to the hatch to put out the anchor. Everyone hates doing that.
The glass range, built by Whittley under licence to the large American Brunswick Boat Group which now owns Savage, also feature a bubble-top cuddy that creates a surprising amount of space, particularly headroom in the cabin. There are no walk-around decks because you don't need them; the central walk is far more efficient and manageable.




The subject of this test, the new Tasman 5.2 Cuddy Cabin, is a classic case of an update that retains the old good bits and introduces improvements which make the whole package work even better. The test boat, explained Savage's Steve Bull, was the prototype so it had been belted around a bit in testing and was a little rough around the edges.
Never mind, it was still a tidy little boat and a bit of dirt here and there is par for the course in the boating world anyway. Test day at the Warmies at Newport on Port Phillip Bay saw a good 20-knot sou'westerly blowing which made our photographer's job a tough one but the boat handled the conditions surprisingly well.
Far better, in fact, than what I expected. It's interesting that while the fully moulded topsides of this boat are all new, the hull remains the same as that designed by John Savage more than 10 years ago. The philosophy is 'don't fix what ain't broke' and this hull is a little cracker. We had quite a healthy windwave to deal with and the boat rode it very well, landing smoothly on many occasions when I had thought we'd be in for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am.
The boat was fitted with a bimini but no clears so, for insurance, I wore a waterproof windcheater for the test. I needn't have bothered. Although we copped a little spray occasionally and quite understandably in these conditions, I would have to describe the boat as very dry indeed - another pleasant surprise. So that's two out of three: soft and dry.
Stability back at the ramp was good too. Maneuverability was a bit difficult to test because the boat was not fitted with hydraulic steering and I'm not into ripping arm and shoulder muscles.
Oh dear, let me beat this drum yet again: a boat of this size with a 115hp motor simply must have hydraulic steering. If you're buying a 'package' of any make or model, check that the deal includes hydraulic steering. If it doesn't, then caveat emptor. And dealers will love you because you'll always come back to buy it after-market - when it's more costly. Your original 'great deal' won't look so attractive then.
But as I was saying before I ripped that bicep, it was difficult to fault the Tasman's performance. Most people would have the boat in the carport in the conditions that we experienced but it's nice to know that on the one day when the weather does catch you, you can potter home very confident you're going to get there without drama or anxiety and without getting drowned, belted black and blue, and spinal column compressed. As Kim would say: "noice."
And the topsides are "noice" too. This boat is aimed at the popular family market so price is important ($30 to $40K range) and the bells and whistles are kept at a minimum although they're available, obviously.
I've mentioned the walkthrough to the self-draining anchor locker and bowsprit with roller which makes anchoring easy. The bow also has a split bowrail.




The cuddy is spacious with plenty of headroom when seated on the vinyl covered bunks. It's unlined (bare grey flowcoat) but it's neat and tidy with side windows for light and matching vinyl covered back rests which seem a little flimsy. Sidepockets are adequate for small items but there are quite a few of them. Naturally, there is storage under the bunks, and a centre panel and cushion to form a full bunk if you so desire.
To form the walkthrough, the bulkhead is split and anchored either side of the walkway, but that works well with small 'windows' low down in front of the twin bucket seats to let in light and act as footrests. There is a large but shallow wet bin in the carpeted floor between the seats with the 90lt fuel tank mounted amidships.
Power is supplied by a Mercury Optimax 115 hp outboard driving an 18in stainless steel prop - and that's plenty. While we didn't manage a top-speed run because of the conditions, we cruised quite comfortably at 3000rpm achieving 25kmh.




Unfortunately, both the trim and fuel gauges were faulty but the combined analog and digital main instruments gave us all the info we needed and then some. All were mounted front and centre, along with a Navman MCB 7270 marine radio (VHF is optional) and a Navman Fish 4431 black and white fishfinder. The hour gauge is mounted left of the helm and a little low but that's not an instrument you need to refer to often anyway. The switch panel is on the right.
The helm position is comfortable with a stainless steel cupholder on the sidepanel at knee height and the long rodrack (portside also) with slots for three rods under that.
The passenger has a stainless grabrail in front as well as a small open shelf for keys, wallets etc. Above that is a larger, lidded and lockable glovebox as well as another open box to the left side below another plastic grabhandle. The five-piece screen is Perspex and is supported on two pillars either side of the swing-out panel. A bimini gives sun protection.
The entire interior is fully moulded and easy to keep clean, including the rear lounge which folds down when you don't want it. The cushions are stored on straps under the coamings out of the way - clever. Padding across the transom is handy as a backrest for the lounge or thigh rest when fishing.
The engine well is quite small with a transom flap to allow the engine to come up for travelling. This creates space for twin plumbed tanks in both stern quarters and space for two in-deck plastic rodholders (there are another two in the gunnels). Rear cleats are partly recessed. Gunnels are quite high, which is great to keep the littlies in but does make it awkward to climb aboard the boat when on its trailer.
You get a choice of trailer, either a Trailer Made - the frames are made in China and the finishing done by Trailer Made at Shepparton, and come standard with alloys and a spare - or a Dunbier.
Overall the Tasman 5.2 Cuddy Cabin is an impressive entry level craft and it appears to be keenly priced. The hull's good and 'made by Whittley' is a recommendation in itself.




Surprisingly good performance
Spacious cuddy
Good storage areas
Walkthrough deck




High sides make the boat difficult to get into when on its trailer
No hydraulic steering
Fairly spartan





Specifications: Savage Tasman 5.2 Cuddy Cabin




Price as tested: $37,862 w/ Mercury Optimax 115hp outboard and options
Options fitted: Bimini, tonneau cover, transom ladder, rego, and safety gear
Priced from: $31,500 w/ Mercury 90hp two-stroke outboard




Material:  GRP
Type:   Monohull
Length overall:  5.2m           
Beam:  2.1m
Deadrise:  17º
Rec. min. HP:  90
Rec. max. HP:   115
Weight: 672kg (hull only)
Towing weight: 1202kg




Fuel: ..... 90lt
Water: … 43lt




Make/model:  Mercury 115
Type:   Optimax four-stroke outboard
Rated HP:  115HP
Displacement:  1526cc
Weight:  170kg 
Propeller:  18in stainless steel




8 Ashley Park Drive,
Chealsea Heights, Vic, 3196
Phone: 9772 1999



Originally published in TrailerBoat #225

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