Ferry services to Barra and South Uist face disruption until the start of next week after a ship was suddenly taken out of service for urgent repairs.
The issue is serious as the MV Lord of the Isles is being dispatched to a drydock in Liverpool in the middle of a busy summer season.
A fault which weakened her hull was discovered yesterday forcing her to cancel all sailings immediately.
The ferry was stuck in Oban as urgent arrangements were made to find a ship yard able to make the repairs at short notice.
The ship is now heading to Cammell Laird in Liverpool and it is hoped she will return for the start of next week.
It is believed the ship needs to go into drydock so her underwater structure can be examined to assess the extent of the fault.
Cal Mac said the ferry “is being taken out of service for essential hull repairs”.
Problems or damage in her steel structure were picked up as part of a routine inspection.
As Barra was without its lifeline ship, a Cal Mac boss apparently had to change his travel plans and was forced to take a flight instead of his planned ferry trip to Barra yesterday.
The MV Clansman will make some sailings to Barra in the coming days but its unclear when a ferry will next call in to South Uist.
The Lord of the Isles will not be allowed to carry passengers or undertake commercial sailings until the hull is up to a safe legal standard.
An alternative late sailing for the stranded passengers to Lochboisdale was scheduled to depart Oban at 8pm last night and was due to arrive at 1.30am this morning.
The call-in to Castlebay was cancelled so Barra passengers had no choice but to undertake an island-hopping diversion before getting home.
They have to stay onboard to Lochboisdale, drive through South Uist and Eriskay and wait for a small ferry, MV Loch Alainn, to cross the Sound of Barra.
Travellers are advised to call Cal Mac offices in Oban or Lochboisdale.
In addition, this morning’s mainland-bound sailings between Barra and Oban have been cancelled.