Over recent days, the MV Loch Bhrusda ferry has been providing support on the Largs to Cumbrae ferry service while the MV Loch Shira is out of action and awaiting repairs. 

The 35 metre Bhrusda was built by McTay Marine on the Mersey but actually began her berthing trials at Largs and Cumbrae Slip, proving her suitable to relieve there.

She started the Sound of Harris service in 1996, but it soon became apparent that she was too small and a new vessel was required for this increasingly popular route.

MV Loch Bhrusda's car deck provides space for 18 cars. The bridge is in the centre of the vessel, above the car deck, giving a better view than the starboard bridge of earlier vessels.

Shallow water in the Sound of Harris led to the adoption of a water-jet propulsion system.

The 246 tonne vessel, was designed for the waters of the Sound of Harris, with Schottel pump jet propulsion to keep her keel from snagging.

After 11 years operating in the Outer Hebrides, she is now a Clyde-based relief small vessel.

It was originally thought the MV Loch Shira wouldn't be back in operation until late May. But CalMac later said they weren't expecting the ferry to return to service until mid-June at the earliest.

The ferry operator has told the Cumbrae Ferry Users Group (CFUG) that specialist parts have been ordered from Poland to replace those which were found to be "beyond repair".

Those parts require time to manufacture, transport and install - and by the time that's completed, the vessel is likely to have been out of service for more than two months.