Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Largest vessel to be launched in Killybegs since 1980

Built by Mooney Boats Ltd in Killybegs for skipper Ralston Johnston, Amethyst BF 19 is the latest gem to join the Scottish fleet. Designed by SC McAllister’s Ian Paton, the trawler has an overall length of 20.25m, a beam of 7.3m and a draught of 4.85m, earning the Amethyst the distinction of being the largest vessel to have been launched in Killybegs since 1980, with the full build from keel to finish carried out by Mooney Boats at the yard.

Co-owned by Ralston and Westward Fishing Company, the new vessel is a replacement for the 2008 Macduff built 19m Amethyst, which was sold last July. The Mooney Boats build is the fourth in a line of vessels by the same name and the second for skipper Ralston, who with some 36 years fishing under his belt fished the first two Amethysts as mate. 

In terms of the design of the newest Amethyst, the skipper-owner from Gardenstown told The Skipper, “I wanted something that was slightly bigger than what I had before. My old boat was just over 19m with a 6.7/6.8 beam. We wanted something that was a little bit bigger and also something that would be more fuel-efficient and with more power as well.”

“The two things very often go together – newer boats are more efficient, they steam faster and have better fuel economy, so that was the big attraction with a new boat.”

With efficiency and safety as some of their top priorities, Mooney Boats pride themselves on building strong long-lasting vessels. The techniques they have developed in modernising their designs have kept them at the forefront of shipbuilding within Ireland and further, which was one of the attractions which brought the new build to their Killybegs based shipyard.

Familiar with the quality of the work produced by Mooney Boats, when the opportunity to upgrade to a new vessel presented itself with a spot opening up at the Killybegs yard, the company jumped at the chance, and the new trawler was commissioned in 2017.

After careful planning, the keel of the vessel was laid at the yard in the last quarter of 2018. Less than twelve months later, the new Amethyst was successfully launched in Killybegs in September 2019, and following final fit-out and sea trials finally made her way home to Fraserburgh on January 8, beating most of the new year weather.

With Ralston at the helm, his brother Roy, who is relief skipper on the Amethyst and two friends onboard, leaving Killybegs on the Wednesday night and arriving back in Fraserburgh by 3am Saturday morning, they had a “super sail”, said Ralston.


Capable of up to 10 knots, the new Amethyst is powered by a Padmos supplied Mitsubishi S6R2-T2MPTK-3 main engine producing 480 kW @ 1350 rpm, connected to a Reintjes WAF 374L, 7.091:1 reduction gearbox, powering an Aluminium Bronze 2.1m skewed Kaplan design propeller. The fixed pitch, 4 blade propeller was supplied by Kort Propulsion.

As with the main engine, the vessel’s auxiliaries — a Mitsubishi 6D24-TC and 1 x Mitsubishi 6D16-T auxiliary — were supplied by Padmos. Electrics, hydraulics and pumps onboard were fitted by Mooney Boats themselves.

Boasting a wheelhouse that has been kitted out with an impressive array of electronics by Barry Electronics Ltd (see side panel), marrying comfort and style, the vessel’s interior, with custom-made furniture and fittings which seamlessly integrate into the accommodation areas onboard the vessel, was created by the skilled carpenters and expert fabricators at Mooney Boat Ltd themselves.

Though the vessel will be crewed by six, the new Amethyst has ample accommodation onboard for eight. Expertly finished, high-quality wood ensures the crew’s living quarters retain a lasting strength while remaining a comfortable area of work and rest for those onboard.

In true Mooney Boats style, modernizing the design, LED strip lighting can be found throughout the vessel along with some other unique modernizing features such as USB charging points, Entertainment sound system, modern efficient electrical heating, high-power efficient LED work lights and an Underwater Prop-inspection camera housed within the hull itself. The vessel’s internet system was installed by McMinn Marine Ltd.

Very happy indeed with the new trawler, the Amethyst skipper said Mooney Boats were “excellent” to work with. “Everyone we met over in Ireland has been excellent to work with. Killybegs is a very friendly place. Everyone we took over commented on how friendly it was.”

Now home in Fraserburgh, the reception has been equally positive. “There’s been a lot of people through her since we came home,” he said, “local skippers, and they’re all very impressed. The finish is really good.”

“The workmanship is first class,” he said.

Arranged for twin rigging and equipped with the latest Scanmar trawl monitoring technology, in terms of gear, the nets onboard the new Amethyst — which will be used with heavy-duty Thyboron type 16 doors — were made and supplied by Faithlie Trawls of Fraserburgh. Chosen and designed with selectivity in mind, the gear supplied includes 2 x Triple Mouth Letterbox nets and 2 x Wide Mouth Scraper nets. Warps were supplied by Buckie’s Karl Thomson, with chandlery aboard supplied by Scotnet and Caley Stores.

Winches, net drums and landing crane onboard the new Amethyst were supplied by EK Marine, while the fish handling system onboard was fitted by Mooney Boats themselves. Fish hold refrigeration was supplied by Fraserburgh’s Premier Refrigeration and includes: 7/8” Stainless Steel Pipe Evaporator designed to fit hold roof, with Marine Condensing Unit, Flake Ice Machine and 1 ton per 24 hours F30M Geneglace Flake Ice Machine also with Marine Condensing Unit.


Ralston was busy organising and finalising the last bits and pieces on the Amethyst and eager to get away to sea in the new boat when The Skipper spoke to him. Fishing out of Fraserburgh for most of the year and targeting prawns in the North Sea, once they do get away the Amethyst will be working seven-day trips and five-hour tows “depending where you’re at, on the weather and what’s catching”. The fresh prawns landed by the Amethyst will be sold to Macduff Shellfish.

Optimistic in terms of the future of fishing but aware also of the vagaries of nature (and politics) as any person working with the sea is, the skipper-owner said, “It depends on a lot of things, but I think the fishing looks positive. There’s a lot of new builds coming, and you have to be positive. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have ordered a new boat.”

“There are some things you can’t control – I mean Mother Nature! A few years ago, there were no prawns in the North Sea but that was just down to Mother Nature and you can’t control that, but I think the outlook looks ok. Positive enough, I think.” Equally as difficult to predict perhaps, on the Brexit question the skipper from Gardenstown exclaimed with a laugh, “No idea. You tell me! I don’t know.”

One thing the Amethyst skipper does know for sure, however, is that he is looking forward to getting away to sea in the new boat. “Prawn fishing was very good last year after we sold the boat. For the boats that have been out this year there’s a bit of whitefish on the go and the fishing has been good as well so far, but the boats just haven’t had a chance with weather. The weather’s just been bad. So, we’re quite keen to get a start,” he said.

“We’re delighted with the boat. The boat’s super. Now we are really looking forward to getting a start and seeing what she can do.”

The Skipper team would like to wish Ralston, his crew, their families and Westward Fishing Company every success and safe fishing with the new Amethyst.

Barry Electronics Amethyst Package

Killybegs based Barry Electronics Ltd, Ireland’s largest marine electronics company, kitted out the Amethyst’s wheelhouse with an impressive array of electronics which includes:


1 x Furuno FAR1518 X-Band BB Type Approved ARPA Radar with Neovo Mo  nitor

1 x Furuno M1835 10.4” Radar 4kW with 24” Radome


Echo Sounder

1 x JRC 130BB Echo Sounder with 50kHz Transducer with Neovo Monitor. Hardness output for Olex



1 x Olex 3D Bottom Mapping Plotter with Hardness, connected to Wind Speed and Direction sensor

2 x Sodena Easy Win Version 8 ECS Chart Plotting System with AIS and ARPA

1 x NT921 MK 2 Autopilot with Watch Alarm and NFU Lever

1 x JRC JLR-21 Satellite Compass for Heading information for the Radar and Autopilot

2 x Furuno GP-39 GPS Navigator

1 x Furuno FA-170 AIS Identification System



Icom GM800 150W MF/HF DSC Radio

Sailor 6215 DSC (Class D) VHF Radiotelephone

Furuno PR300 Power Supply Unit (Mains/Battery auto change over)

Victron Skyalla-TG Charger for GMDSS Batteries    

Victron GMDSS Remote Battery Monitor

2 x 140Ah Batteries for GMDSS Power

Furuno NX-300 Navtex Receiver



General Communications

Sailor 6210 VHF with Telephone Handsets

1 x Icom IC-GM1600E GMDSS Approved Handheld

2 x CCTV Analogue Systems for 9 Cameras with wide screen Neovo monitors

1 x Propeller Camera mounted on the Hull to monitor the propeller when steaming.

1 x 5 Station Phonetech Intercom System, 2 x Cabins, Aft and Fwd deck area with External Speakers.

Engine Room Station with noise reduction headset

1 x Bridge PC for Log Book and Internet Browsing