I was fishing the rips off Montauk, New York, for striped bass when a slick, powder-blue center console cruised by. It had a mini-tower on the hardtop, a big Rhodan trolling motor on the bow and a Suzuki DF350 4-stroke on a bracket. I recognized one of the anglers on board, and he told me the boat was a Judge 265CC.
Based in Denton, Maryland, Judge Yachts was founded by Bill Judge, who has been building boats for decades. Each boat is built to order to accommodate the needs of the customer, from inboard cruisers and sportfishing boats to outboard center consoles.
“Our build process begins well before the first strip of fiberglass is hand-laid,” Judge says. “I spend time with each new owner to discuss their dreams for the boat — where it will go, what it will do, what purposes it will serve. Then we customize the design. The final product is a boat that has everything he wants and nothing he doesn’t.”
The 265CC measures 26 feet, 4 inches overall, and has an 8-foot, 10-inch beam. It’s rated for a single outboard up to 350 hp and weighs about 4,500 pounds, which is a good weight for trailering behind a pickup or larger SUV.
It rides a variable-deadrise, modified-vee hull that has a 55-degree entry, 24 degrees of deadrise amidships and 12 degrees at the transom. The design requires fewer horses to plane, is more fuel efficient at cruise and is stable when drifting or at rest. It runs well in moderate seas but also can get into skinny water, especially if you order the boat with a Porta-Bracket, which raises and lowers the engine similar to the way a jackplate operates.
The hull is built of hand-laid solid fiberglass with a fiberglass grid system. The deck, cored with Carbon-Core, is glassed in, after which the gunwale cap is installed. The console, which has a starboard-side door, contains a head compartment with ample headroom.
The 265CC’s list of standard features includes spray rails, stainless-steel hardware, SeaStar Optimus power steering, Zipwake automatic trim tabs, a powder-coated T-top with rocket launchers, pull-up cleats, a Birdsall leaning post, and a Suzuki DF300 with a stainless prop. The base boat sells for $79,900.
But the heart of any Judge boat is what the customer envisions. The boat I saw on the Montauk rips had a larger, solid fiberglass hardtop with an upper station. They call it a cobia tower around the Chesapeake Bay area, but it would also be a nice feature in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing shallows like the Chandeleur Islands for redfish and sea trout, or when sight-casting for stripers around Monomoy off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The owner I spoke with opted for a Suzuki DF350 and a Rhodan remote-control trolling motor, plus a full suite of electronics, including radar. The boat also has a custom leaning post, outriggers and a transom bait well. It cruises at 32 knots, getting 2.2 mpg, and tops out at 41 knots, according to Judge Yachts. Judge offers Suzuki and Honda power, or can pre-rig the boat for Yamaha or Mercury outboards at the customer’s request.
If you’re looking for a semicustom center console with some old-school flare, check in with Judge to discuss your dream.