CalMac has issued travel warnings while bringing in a rigid inflatable boat after the breakdown of the world's first sea-going hybrid ferry.

Onlookers said boats sought to try and support passengers after the ferry between Skye and Raasay was taken out of service on Thursday.

The 11-year-old MV Hallaig, presented as a "pioneering" diesel/electric ferry built for the Scottish Government-owned ferry operator was evacuated after a battery overheated on Thursday.

The fire brigade is understood to have been called to monitor the situation, as smoke was seen to have come from the vessel.

The service between Sconser and Raasay has been suspended since around noon on Thursday while a charter vessel has been supporting passengers and a relief ferry is being deployed.

It is understood that boats were picking up customers on either side of the crossing while the service has been suspended.

CalMac has been warning users that passenger numbers were "extremely limited" and that "travel is only recommended if necessary".

Users were also warned that due to the nature of the charter access to the shore would be through the vessel's ladder and that it might not be suitable for passengers with mobility issues.

CalMac say a charter was arranged "as quickly as possible" once CalMac staff contacted all operators they have listed as charter contacts. 

They say that reports of a fire were wrong but there was smoke emitting from a battery cell.  

The ferry operator said there were then various calls and team meetings with port managers and marine and technical teams to "source contingency options".

A rigid inflatable boat (rib) was arranged to use as passenger charter to transport passengers.

CalMac told users that the charter vessel would provide further support today.

Dan Corigall, who runs Stardust Boat Trips, said he helped get one group of 12 off Raasay on Thursday night and criticised CalMac's response.

He believed the breakdown left about 40 visitors waiting for help on Raasay. The breakdown also hit locals who had travelled to Skye on shopping trips.

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Mr Corigall claimed people were stranded at Raasay for hours saying it was "disgraceful and not acceptable by any means".  However, CalMac refuted claims people had been stranded.

He said CalMac should be "ashamed" and said: "The way they have operated is very poor."

There were also people in vehicles which were stuck."

He said that one rib vessel was taking six people at a time across the ferry route and there were concerns about how people were able to get on and off the island going forward.

"It is a major problem and it doesn't look good for CalMac. There were people standing there not knowing what was happening. There was nothing for them."

Ian Blackford, the SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber. was more positive.

He said on social media: "I understand the inconvenience for travellers on both these routes however I recognise that in these challenging circumstances CalMac has worked quickly to make sure that all affected communities have emergency provisions in place."

It is understood that CalMac had rigid inflatable temporary relief vessel running  till 9pm on Thursday.

A charter was also shuttling people on Friday while MV Loch Tarbert was being drafted in to cover and is expected to be in place at 4pm.

The redeployment of MV Loch Tarbert is expected to have knock-on effect on the service between Kilchoan and Tobermory on Mull. A passenger only charter has been arranged as Mull prepares to hold its annual Mod festival this weekend.

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The festival is a cultural feast of Gaelic music and song which takes place in September every year in Tobermory.

It encourages the use and development of the Gaelic language and music through solo, choral, oral and instrumental competitions.

A CalMac spokeswoman has said: "Whilst alongside in Raasay, the crew of MV Hallaig were alerted to a cell overheating within the hybrid battery bank.

"The crew acted promptly and professionally, evacuating all passengers and vehicles.

"Scottish Fire and Rescue attended and are currently monitoring the battery system. As a precaution, the system will continue to be monitored for the next hour before entry is made into the battery locker to allow further assessment."

The MV Hallaig was hailed as the first of two roll-on, roll-off ferries that will run on diesel and electric power, leading to 20% lower emissions.

It was launched from the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow after a £20 million investment in the green technology.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said when it was launched that it was a "great day for Clyde shipbuilding".

CalMac added:  “Whilst alongside in Raasay yesterday, the crew of MV Hallaig were alerted to a cell overheating within the hybrid battery bank. The crew acted promptly and professionally, evacuating all passengers, whose safety was the main priority during this incident.

"Scottish Fire and Rescue attended and monitored the battery system for some time. A charter for passengers was arranged as quickly as possible and ensured that anyone wanting to travel between Raasay and Skye were able to do so. Passengers were not stranded, staff acted as promptly as possible, ensuring passengers were safe whilst dealing with a potential incident at the same time.

"Once Mv Hallaig was evacuated onto the Raasay slip, the technical manager for the vessel was actually on board so he then sourced internal and external help. The fire brigade attended the vessel and had the situation under control.

"Customers that had contacted our customer engagement centre had their contact numbers collated, and when we knew that a rib was arranged, those customers were contacted with the information. We had one lady in particular who was a wheelchair user and could not travel by rib. She also had an issue with medication so it was arranged for her medication to be transported to her. 

"It was agreed that the rib would work later than the last timetabled sailing to clear all traffic, which was done by 2100 ( two hours after scheduled service). They even carried out a sailing to Portree for affected passengers. 

"Today the rib continues to operate whilst Loch Tarbert transits to the area for 4pm. We have been in contact with the local shop on Raasay and we agreed to ship goods via the rib until Loch Tarbert arrives. "