The operation began at 8.40pm after a four-metre RIB, reportedly with two people and a dog on board, had failed to return to Strollamus on Skye as expected.
Kyle RNLI’s lifeboat Spirit of Fred Olsen launched within minutes after a report from a concerned member of the public.
The crew began a search of the coastline and small islands from Kyleakin heading north, while volunteers with Portree RNLI did the same heading south.
With light fading fast at 10pm and still no sign of the missing RIB, the Stornoway-based HM Coastguard helicopter was tasted to the scene.
Meanwhile, one of the Kyle lifeboat crew spotted a small light on the normally uninhabited island of Scalpay, which on investigation belonged the two people from the missing RIB.
They explained that they had gone ashore after suffering engine problems with their vessel, and were uninjured by their ordeal. The crew took them back to the Skye mainland at Broadford.
Speaking of the incident, a Kyle RNLI spokesperson said: “The couple had gone out searching for whelks when they had issues with their engine, so went ashore on Scalpay.
“The initial report had said they had a dog with them, however we discovered they had decided to leave it at home on this occasion.
“This search shows that during these unprecedented times of lockdown with bans on non-essential travel, the RNLI is still on call 24 hours a day.”