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Star Fort

Started: 2020-11-25 16:07:26

Submitted: 2020-11-25 17:46:50

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator builds an idea star fort out of sand

I am not a military historian, but sometimes I play one while on vacation.

I took Julian to the beach at Rio Del Mar one Sunday afternoon, to get him out of the house so Kiesa could prepare for an interview. (Rio Del Mar is our default nearby beach: it's easy to get to from our house, and the parking is free and fairly easy to get, at least in November.) Despite being the middle of November, the day was bright and sunny, though the air was a bit too cold to want to get into the water. On the beach I laid out the outline for my sandcastle: a star fort, representing early modern fortress design, after the advent of gunpowder rendered castles obsolete but before high-explosive shells rendered star forts obsolete.

Julian surveys the outline of a sand star fort
Julian surveys the outline of a sand star fort

While laying out my five-sided fort, I remembered the star forts I've visited on vacation: Fort George in Inverness, Scotland; and Kastellet in Copenhagen. I outlined a massive star fort, six feet on a side, with five sides, with elaborate points at each corner supporting firing platforms for large fixed guns with interlocking firing positions over an elaborate killing zone in the moat outside of the earthen walls.

Julian builds a sand fort on Rio Del Mar Beach
Julian builds a sand fort on Rio Del Mar Beach

Julian built his own sand fortress nearby, which (if I understood him correctly) turned into a fortified house, complete with a kitchen and other rooms inside.

Julian with the completed sand star fort
Julian with the completed sand star fort

My star fort took more than an hour to build, starting with the moat and then using the wet sand to build the walls. (When we visited the beach the tide was receding from the morning's king tide; the sand was still damp from the tide, forming a sturdy building material for my fortress.) When it was complete I sat back in my camp chair and watched the beach, while people walked past and remarked about the sand fortress; then returned home after our afternoon on the beach.

Modern mobile phones make my head hurt, and I speak as the owner of a
sheepskin that proclaims me to hold a degree in computer science.
- Charles Stross, What I want for Christmas