City police save Light City art installation from a watery grave

An umbrella-festooned sailboat, part of an art installation for Light City 2017, was saved from sinking Friday morning by the quick action of the city police department's marine unit.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, the marine unit was on patrol in the Inner Harbor when officers saw the boat, from an installation by artist Stephanie Imbeau titled "Drift," taking on water, police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said.

"Our officers were able to assist with pumping the water out of the sinking boat," Silbert said. There were no injuries, he said.

The boat was back in the water by mid-afternoon.

"She's in the water, and she's being closely monitored," said a relieved Imbeau. "We're just going to hope for the best. We think she'll be OK."

The boat is one of three, all covered with umbrellas, that comprise "Drift," an installation designed to "celebrate the deep natural harbor and the beauty of community and highlight the importance of boats to Baltimore's history," according to a description provided by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, which is producing the Light City festival.

"We fortunately have a really dedicated crew here," said Bill Gimore, BOPA's executive director. "With the resources provided by the city, we can pretty much handle anything that comes down."

Imbeau says she was actually asleep while all the tumult was going on, exhausted from the work that went into preparing "Drift" for the festival, which opens tonight and runs through April 8.

"I woke up to an email," said the Berlin-based artist. "Basically, everything had happened by the time I woke up."

Friday's heavy rain, she said, caught her and the people she is working with unawares.

"We’ve been thrown as much weather to surprise us as could be humanly possible, or weatherly possible," she said. "This was a big test of teamwork."

For his part, Gilmore promised that rain would not delay the opening of the festival or otherwise affect its run. The only things that could cause officials to shut down the festival even temporarily would be thunder and lightning, "and we've been told that the possibility for that is minimal," he said.

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