The 19-year-old automobile ferry MV Loch Portain broke down on Friday afternoon, leaving companies on the route between Leverburgh on Harris and the island of Berneray – an necessary hyperlink within the Hebrides chain – cancelled all through the weekend.
CalMac has mentioned a smaller ferry is anticipated to be introduced in on Monday to take up the slack because the MV Loch Portain stays out of motion.
Users have been instructed engineers wanted to cope with the issue weren’t obtainable till Monday.
Cllr Grant Fulton, based mostly on Harris, mentioned he feared the knock-on impact of islands’ disruption is that vacationer is not going to return and other people have been caught in Harris and Lewis with no lodging in addition to “struggling to even get food due to the crisis with lack of staff in food businesses”.
He mentioned: “Tourists are having to sleep in cars.
“Accommodation suppliers in North and South Uist may have cancellations attributable to their company not in a position to journey.
“Travel plans are scuppered, with folk trying to make the Lochboisdale, South Uist, and Barra ferries, as many tourists use the hopscotch CalMac booking option travelling down or up the islands.
“CalMac haven’t any additional capability to supply a ferry when one other breaks down – virtually a weekly prevalence at this stage.
“Accommodation providers in Harris are now getting future cancellations due to the ferry lottery system.
“How are our personal companies presupposed to survive with the elevated gasoline prices and ferry lottery system?
“We have shellfish that needs transported, food and fuel that needs to come to the island.
“Is this acceptable? Will these guests return? I actually would not.”
One traveller made a social media plea for accommodation, saying her family was “stranded and unable to achieve our subsequent rental property on Eriskay”.
She wrote: “Does anybody know of any dog-friendly lodging? CalMac should not taking telephone calls.”
She was eventually offered a room for the night after the appeal, but said she managed to get a hotel booked after CalMac advised they couldn’t get her group to Eriskay before Wednesday.
Another tourist said she was stranded on Uig on Lewis before finding a detour.
CalMac said a limited passenger-only charter was organised, which required booking.
The company said: “We recognise that cancelling a service could be very difficult for our prospects and the communities we serve and apologise for the disruption this may trigger.”
It said Loch Portain, which can carry 146 passengers and 34 cars, would remain out of action on Monday whilst further investigations are carried out on the vessel’s propulsion system.
It was hoped a smaller relief vessel, MV Loch Bhrusda, which can carry 150 passengers and 18 cars, would be in place yesterday but is now expected to take up service from today.
CalMac said: “As a results of the decreased capability this ferry gives not all present bookings could be honoured – we are going to function a prioritisation system and port workers will contact affected passengers.”