Savage SP 540 Osprey Cuddy Cabin Review

Issue: July 2004
Manufacturer: Savage Boats 

The quote from the website states: “The new SP 540 Osprey Cuddy Cabin is sleek, streamlined and built for speed and comfort. At 5.4m it’s a fun family cruiser, or great fishing boat for up to six people” What it doesn’t state is that the 540 Osprey is also a top bluewater boat with seakeeping abilities way beyond that of many other aluminium boats in its size range. Plus, it’s one of the few tinnies that the Modern Boating team has been on that doesn’t bang. That’s right, it doesn’t slap the water with the flat section below the helm station when it’s on the plane. 

The statement about the Osprey being a fun family cruiser is also correct to a certain extent, especially looking at it from a ride and handling perspective, but it’s layout is rather Spartan compared to other so-called family cruisers on the market. But that’s exactly what fishos want from a boat, as much uncluttered cockpit area as a boat can deliver and a stack of storage space to boot. And that’s what the Osprey delivers. She’s a smooth riding, open cockpit boat that has plenty of dry storage in its small cuddy cabin, which is exactly what a cuddy cabin is designed for. 

Apart from the brilliant ride delivered by the Osprey, it’s her wide-open uncluttered aft cockpit and ease of access to the anchor well that will make her a winner with fishos. And the Osprey gives them a vessel they can fi tout to their own liking. The test boat is fitted with a bimini top, which provides good protection from the elements over the helm, but add a few more rod holders, a rocket launcher style rod rack, a good sounder/GPS chartplotter and a live bait tank and she’d be ready to tackle the big ones out wide. So, what makes this hull ride so well ? She’s a moderate-vee hull with a sharp entry that slices cleanly through the slop and wide down-turned chines for extra stability, both at rest and on the plane. 

But it’s the way the shoulder behind bow channels the water almost sidewards, generating lift for faster planing, that eliminates water slapping against the hull. The quiet running of the hull is also help by the polyurethane foam filling under the floor. Not only does this flotation help reduce noise, it’s impervious to petrol, oil and saltwater, unlike some of its competitors. This hull is not only quiet; it’s strong. Savage is one of the few aluminium boat builders that use full continuous-seam welding throughout, not just spot welds like some other builder. 

This gives a greater structural strength and helps stop the hull flexing, which can crack spot welds. Savage has also beefed up the transoms of its SL/SP hulls to match new, higher recommended horsepower ratings and the heavier four-stroke engines. Savage also combines the strength of an aluminium hull, with the style and finish of moulded fibreglass cabin to produce a vessel that requires a second look to see that “yes, it is” an aluminium boat. Still in the look’s department, Savage uses marine-grade stainless steel for the bowrail and bollards, which definitely enhances the style these vessels. 

Another excellent aspect of these boats is the walk-through bow access, which provides safer, more convenient anchoring and docking. As far as the interior layout goes, there is a folding ladder on the portside of the swim platform and a removable split rear lounge across the transom. The entire cockpit floor is covered with heavy-duty marine grade carpet and there are twin swivel seat for the driver and navigator. The windscreen is split to allow bow access and even though there is a passenger’s grab rail and the screen’s frame is very sturdy, the team feels another grab rail around the screen would be a worthy standard inclusion. 

The dash has been design to allow plenty of room for mounting extra electronics such as GPS/Chartplotter/sounder etc. and all the other electronic gizmos that are appearing on boats these days. The steering wheel is well positioned for comfortable driving both standing or seated. Even though the mechanical steering is relatively light, again it’s the team’s opinion that any outboard over 90hp should be fitted with hydraulic steering, although it is an optional extra. You have to bob down to enter the cuddy cabin and an adult can’t sit up straight on the bunks. 

This cuddy was designed for storage, although the kids could curl up for a snooze on the bunks. Savage use a one-piece floor in the Osprey and the side pockets are raised, so yes, you can get your toes in under and brace against the high gunwales when fighting a big fish. From a performance perspective, the Osprey was powered by an old favourite, a Mercury 115hp two-stroke. It won’t be my choice, I’d rather outlay the extra cash for a four-stroke, but it surely has enough raw horsepower to propel this boat to 40 knots plus. It also has plenty of bottom end torque, so family waterskiing and wakeboarding are also on the cards for this boat. 

The 115 delivers classic, dependable twostroke carburetted power and features an easy to read transparent oil level indicator in the cowl. This engine also features two protective systems, a low-oil level alarm and overheat warning horn to guard the engine from potential engine damaging situations. Plus, the computer designed heavy-duty gear case holds extra oil to allow the lower unit to run cooler for longer engine life. Running all the electrics should be a problem for the battery, because the alternator pumps out 18amp (227 watt) and will keep the battery full charged. Savage has also placed a 100lt underfloor fuel tank along the centreline of the hull.

A 190lt tank is an option for those needing to run greater distances. But the really good news is by running the 115 two-stroke helps keep the overall price down. At $32,990 the Savage 540/Mercury 115hp is an extremely affordable turnkey package. It’s also an excellent hull for a fisho to build his ultimate fishing machine around. And remember, it doesn’t bang. 

Words by Ian Macrae