Beer Nuts, the completed Savage Avalon project boat.

Boat Restoration - Savage Avalon project boat

The first question we fired at Mark Beevis, the owner of this Savage Avalon project boat, was, “What on earth made you do it?”

It’s a reasonable thing to ask, we thought. After all, not many in this age of instant gratification would go to the trouble of rebuilding a ’70s-vintage boat — and take nine months to do it — when there are so many attractive modern boat / motor / trailer packages to be had.

So what was Mark’s excuse? “I didn’t have much to lose,” he told us. “I knew what I was getting into alright, but all I could lose was $200, so it was no big deal.”

Was he qualified to volunteer for such a hazardous boat restoration mission? Frankly, no. Compounding our amazement concerning the 36-year-old mechanic’s achievement, he’d never owned a boat before, much less rebuilt one. Nor was the boat what you’d call a prime candidate for restoration when Mark found it, in that treasure trove — or dumping ground — known as eBay.

For starters, there was no boat / motor / trailer package as such, only a boat, and not a particularly attractive one at that. “The transom was rotten, so was the floor, and there were no lights, fittings, seats or anything,” said Mark.

But as is usually the case with single-minded people, none of this deterred the Savage project boat’s new owner, so he hauled the old boat home on a borrowed trailer in March 2010 to begin what would become a nine-month rebuild.

Where did he get the knowledge and information that enabled him to proceed? You won’t believe this, but he found it in an innocuous little how-to guide on the website of a marine epoxy company called West System (find the “Fibreglass boat repair and maintenance” manual). For Mark this guide was a gold mine, and within it he discovered everything he needed to know about repairing and restoring boats that hadn’t received any TLC for decades.

The bloke who knew little or nothing about fibreglass or resin or fillers on boats put some trust in his own intelligence and his ability with his hands, and made steady progress — repairing the damage, and more or less getting it right first time. What a gun!


Everything you don’t want and all of it in a (rotten) transom. The Savage Avalon project boat had a few problems and they weren’t just cosmetic.

The surprising thing about this boat restoration is that Mark threw himself into it with no boat repair or even boat ownership experience. It was cold turkey. He taught himself how to work with fibreglass and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, and says he only required outside advice when it was time to paint it.

The floor was gone too so Mark also had to replace that. The task of rebuilding the Savage Avalon took nine months and cost just under $7000.

As anyone who has ever restored a boat knows only too well, much of the work is tedious. You just turn your brain off and do what you have to do. Then every now and then you turn the brain back on to check what you’ve done.

Now it’s beginning to look interesting. The first engine he bought coughed in its rompers and died while he was testing it, so Mark went out and bought a 50hp Mercury Brown Band outboard motor.

The old boat trailer wasn’t all that pretty, either. Rust and neglect had taken their toll, but Mark soon got it looking good again… after still more tedious rubbing.

Beer Nuts has since been fitted with proper seats and is now ready to explore Mark’s favourite fishing spots at Loch Sport and Lake Eildon in Victoria. 

Savage Avalon project boat specs

Length 4.2m

Engine 50hp Mercury Brown Band outboard motor

Owner Sean Killgallon

Favourite fishing spot Loch Sport and Lake Eildon, Vic

Target species Flathead and trout


Savage Avalon project boat cost

Purchase price (pre-rebuild) $200

New motor $2700

Battery and electronics $400

Trailer work $300

Seats and trim $350

Painting $800

Fibreglass, timber, resin $800

Safety gear $400

Anchor, rodholders, etc. $500

New gunwales $300

TOTAL COST Approx. $6750


6 project boat restoration tips

From Mark

1. Trust your own judgement.

2. Find out what you need to know.

3. Stick to a budget if that’s important.

4. Don’t let the tough stuff put you off.

5. Be careful when buying a used motor.

6. Test the motor before fitting it.


Originally published in TrailerBoat #272, August 2011.