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New Banff twin-rigger Amethyst has been delivered by Mooney Boats in Kilybegs. Image: Mooney Boats

After a minor technical hitch delayed the departure of the new Amethyst BF-19 from its builder in Killybegs skipper/owner Ralston Johnston and his crew were delighted to be finally on their way home to Banff in early January.

The 20.25 metre, 7.30 metre beam Amethyst has attracted plenty of attention throughout every stage of construction at the Mooney Boats’ yard in Killybegs, and the Ian Paton design of this twin-rig trawler built to fish mainly for prawns provides a ‘Tardis’ effect in that every effort has gone into maximising the interior working and living areas to give the feel of a much bigger boat than 20 metres.


Skipper Ralston Johnston’s prawn gear has been supplied by Faithie Trawls. Image: Mooney Boats

Locating the EK Marine 24-tonne trawl winch in the forepeak section also contributes to a spacious arrangement. In addition to the three-drum trawl winch, EK Marine also supplied the two 12-tonne split net drums, powerblock, gilson winch and the 1t/8m discharging crane.

Amethyst is powered by a 480kW Mitsubishi S6R2-T2MPTK-3 main engine driving a 2100mm, four-bladed propeller set in a fixed nozzle via a Reintjes WAF 374L gearbox with a 7.091:1 reduction.

Hydraulic power is provided via a 218kW Mitsubishi 6D16-TC and a secondary auxilliary engine comes in the form of another Mitsubishi – this time a 120kVa 6D16-T version.

Killybegs company KER Ltd also carried out much work in relation to general engineering, pipeworks and other aspects of the build, while another local company, BEL Ltd., along with McMinn Marine from Scotland, catered for the wheelhouse electronics while Pat Maguire was responsible for commissioning the range of Scanmar trawl monitoring technology ​on board.

‘Mooney Boats teams of skilled carpenters and fabricators created unique custom-made furniture and fittings which seamlessly integrate into the accommodation areas on board. High quality wood expertly finished ensures the crews living quarters retain a lasting strength while remaining a comfortable area of work and rest for those on board,’ the yard’s Alan Hennigan said.

Modernising the design in Mooney Boats style, LED mood strip lighting can be found throughout, along with other modernising features such as USB charging points, an entertainment sound system, modern efficient electrical heating, high power efficient LED work lights and an underwater prop-inspection camera housed within the hull itself.

‘Mooney Boats prides itself on building strong long-lasting vessels with safety and efficiency as some of their top priorities. The technique Mooney Boats has developed in modernised their designs has kept them at the forefront of ship building in Ireland and this was one of the factors that brought this build to their Killybegs-based yard.’

With Thyboron type 16 trawl doors and warp from Karl Thomson in Buckie, Ralston Johnson’s new vessel carries a full range of twin-rig trawl gear from Faithlie Trawls, including standard 180ft scraper nets and specialised low-flyer trawls with no headline overhang ahead of the footrope, designed to avoid any whitefish catches when concentrating on nephrops.


EK Marine supplied the winches, net drums and other deck equipment, as well as the 1t/8m discharging crane. Image: Mooney Boats

While mainly aiming to avoid whiting and haddock, Ralston Johnston explained that the reduced area of top sheet in these trawls are particularly good for avoiding catching some pelagic species when they are moving in the lower depths.

Other equipment supplied to the new Amethyst includes all chandlery from Scotnet, blocks from Fleming Fairleads and safety gear from Blue Anchor.

Once prawn fishing operations begin, out of Fraserburgh, Amethyst will operate five- to seven-day trips and hopefully fill her 500 to 600-box capacity regularly and land the catch to the Westward Fishing Co.

Amethyst has a suite of electronics supplied by Barry Electronics, including a JRC 130 echo sounder with a 50kHz transducer and a pair of Sodena chart plotting systems. Gear monitoring is from Scanmar, with a setup including a QBC-X1 Smart Charger, a SS4 Master Double Distance Sensor, SS4 Clump Sensor and SS4 Slave Distance Sensor, with the data routed through the ScanBas 365 computer.