SAVAGE NAUTILUS MOTOR SAILER
If you are racing-minded, forget this boat. She's not sluggish, but she's not a racer. Probably the best term would be 'plodder', for she gets along, but you would need to bribe the handicapper to compete in anything but a casual race. But if you are looking for a solid, secure boat that takes life easy itself, and makes life easy for you, then take another look at this one. And if comfort and safety are part of your scene, and more so if you want to leave worries and hassles behind when you go boating, then Savage had you in mind when they slid the Nautilus off the drawing board.
And if that sounds a bit like a commercial for Savage, let me justify it. Take your average family of four, for example. Step aboard the Nautilus and see how you fit in. First, there is ample room in the deep cockpit, both to sit and also to retain kids who have a habit of falling overboard. The fibreglass moulded seats are dished for comfort and have drainage holes to prevent that scourge of sailing - a wet backside. Because the cockpit goes right back to the transom, six adults could fit, but four would be a good number both for comfort, and to prevent the self-draining holes bringing water inwards instead of taking it outwards.
The mainsheet is out of the way on a track mounted on the transom leaving the tiller as the only intrusion into the cockpit. This is good thinking as nothing is worse in a cruising boat than having to duck and weave every time the boat goes about.
The side and forward decks are also uncluttered and there is a good solid feel about them which is often not the case in boats of this size. Nothing feels more insecure than a 'twangy' deck, but the firm feel and excellent grip of the non-skid deck on this boat is a good feature. The anchor well is separate from the main cabin and recessed into the foredeck so that wet anchor ropes don't mess up the bunks, and a convenient, though small, hatchway at the forward end of the cabin gives access to the deck and - more importantly - the opportunity to open and ventilate the forward parts of the boat's interior.
The rig is basic with forestays and backstays, upper and lower shrouds, all standard fitting, with a jib and a main - the latter fitted with slab reefing. Tension gear on the backstay is, to my thinking, superfluous since this boat will not be asked for high racing performance, but that is not an over-important point. She is easy to rig and, as mentioned, both sails can be hoisted from the cockpit. I thought the halyards were a bit on the fine side, not so much from the strength point of ciew, as comfort - small lines tend to cut into the hands. A small point, but we are looking at a boat designed to make sailing a pleasure.
Although Nautilus will never represent Australia in the America's Cup, she, no doubt could sail through just about anything our coastal bays could throw at her. Her long keel almost guarantees steady downwave progress and her natural stiffness should keep her on her feet in strong winds. Her chubby motorboat-like hull is quite stiff and her bilges are firm. She should appeal to those who admire the true displacement hull as seen on many old-type fishing boats. Nautilus would double nicely as a fishing boat with accommodation.
Inside the Nautilus, all is comfort. Headroom is modest, and the motor, naturally, takes up a bit of room, although it is fairly well pushed back under the cockpit. The layout is excellent with a big double berth forward and toilet under, two quarter berths, and a table on the starboard side opposite the full moulded galley (including sink, stove and ice box) on the port side. The upholstery is an imitation leather brown and the feeling of luxury increased by the carpet lining the sides of the boat.
The Yanmar diesel fitted to the boat is, of course, a bit noisy and smelly to anyone sitting in the cabin when under power, but Savage have done a good job with the engine cover which completely encloses the motor compartment and reduces the noise and smell to bearable levels.
Under power the Nautilus is delightfully easy to handle with good ahead and astern power and the prop gets a good bite on the water to give her tight manoeuvrability. Getting in and out of the marina is no problem, nor is running her up to her moorings. At full revs she does about six knots and economics of this type of motor need no emphasis in this time of escalating fuel costs. One could cruise for hours on a thimbleful of diesoline.
Under sail she is not quite so handy, at least not hard on the wind. Since she is a motor-sailer one would not expect high performance from the sails, but they are more than adequate to get along well in a moderate breeze, particularly when reaching or running. To windwards she is decidedly sluggish especially in light winds, but it is hard to be too emphatic with this sort of criticism because, after all, she is meant to use sail as complementary power rather than as the sole means of getting along.
Summing up, then, the Nautilus gets top marks as the ideal boat for family cruising where time is of no consequence, but comfort and leisure are the order of the day. This is a boat for anyone who wants to enjoy cruising harbours, rivers or lakes, for when there is no wind the motor gives her good speed, yet when there is a decent breeze, one can enjoy the delights of pleasurable sailing. Not a racing boat, but a first-class compromise which will appeal to families above all else. Comfortable, well designed, safe and manoeuvrable - what more could a cruising family want?