The Charlestown Breachway sits on sort of a barrier island on the south coast of Rhode Island. It’s at the end of a beachfront road that terminates at the man-made breach cut into the barrier island to facilitate drainage. Hence the name “Breachway”.
I camped here for one night prior to attending the Rhythm and Roots Music Festival in Charlestown over Labor Day Weekend. I had a beautiful weather forecast and I wanted to get in a beach day before the end of the summer. So I decided to try out the campground at Charlestown Breachway.
The campground, which is run by the state, is nothing more than a gravel parking lot for RV’s. It’s bordered on three sides by water – the oceanfront, the breachway waterway, and a lagoon. The campground has NO facilities. There’s no hookups, no water, no shade, no picnic tables, no fire rings, no bathhouse, no dump station, and no camp store. Just parking spaces. There are 6 composting toilets and a trash dumpster but that’s it. Nada. Nothing.
The parking lot can hold about 75 RV’s. All units must be hard sided and be totally self-contained (water, toilet, holding tanks). The sites are close together. There’s about 7-8 ft of clear space between units. If you don’t like people or are looking for solitude this place is NOT for you.
Also, its somewhat noisy because everyone brings a generator which can be run all day until 10 pm. The good news is that since it accommodates only self-contained RV’s, the people who can afford the units tend to be older and more mature (there’s no party-all-night 20-somethings).
But what it lacks in facilities it makes up for in location. You’re 200 feet from a beautiful long sandy beach. It’s 100 ft to the breachway and great fishing. And another 200 ft to a large freshwater lagoon that’s great for fishing, kayaking, or paddle boarding. It’s perfect for being close to the water and it’s cheap at $20 night. I spent the day at the beach, hanging around the breachway talking to people fishing, and taking pictures. It was a warm brilliant day with a good breeze and I got my fill for a sunny beach day.
Camping with the Goodfellas
I instantly met my neighbors when I got out of my RV. I couldn’t help it since I was stepping out right onto the patio rug under their awning. They were very nice middle-aged folks from Rhode Island. In fact, I ended up partying with them and their friends until late evening. I couldn’t help it since they were 2-4 ft from my door. They invited me to join them and I figured I might as well join the party instead of holing up in my RV.
It was a fun but somewhat surreal evening. My neighbors had invited several of their camping friends to join them under their awning for drinks. I don’t remember too many of the women’s names but the guys were the following. There was Fast Eddie, Stevie, Bengie, Big Al, Glenn, Markie, and Paulie. I jokingly said “You guys sound like mafia hit men”. No one laughed other than Glenn warning me to watch out for Paulie. Ok. Whew! How about them Red Sox!
All these guys were from Rhode Island. They were all in their 50’s, really good-natured guys, and several had good-sized well tanned beer bellies. They all spoke with something like a RI or NY accent. I felt like I was in a scene from “Goodfellas Goes to the Beach”. I told them my name was Jimmie from Worcestah. It was the closest mob sounding name I could conjure up and I figured I needed to fit in with all the Stevies, Bengies, Eddies, Markies, and Paulie’s.
Most had been camping there all summer. When I mentioned that I thought there was a 7 day limit on camping at the Breachway (I had checked when I made my reservation), Glenn just smiled at me. Then it hit me as I figured out the answer to my own question based on where I was and who I was with. “I forgot, this is Rhode Island”, I said and Glenn just smiled broader and nodded at me. RI politics has a jaded history of being “well connected”.
They were all very curious about the Rhythm and Roots Festival and some said they were thinking of going on Friday evening. They quizzed me about bringing booze into the festival (the festival has a rule about no alcohol). I told them it was a “soft” rule that’s not really enforced in the camping section.
One of the guys asked me – “Hey Jimmie – could you smuggle in a case of booze and some weed for us if wees went to the festival on Friday night?”. I wasn’t sure if he was joking and had to come up with a careful response. I quickly thought about a scene from the Godfather. Halfway through the movie, there’s a big meeting with all the bosses. Don Bartzini says to Don Corleone – “A refusal is not the act of a friend. Surely there’s a price for such service.” I told him no on the weed but joked that it would cost him for the booze. He just laughed and started talking about someone not paying the “vig”. I was off the hook for muling in booze and weed for the Goodfellas.
It was a memorable evening. I had fun playing the role of Jimmie from Worcestah and had a good time joining in the banter. The evening came to an end when Glenn said, “I gots ta go ta sleep now”. And on command everyone got up and left as Glenn climbed into his 5th wheel. No goodnights or see ya laters.
And that was my evening with the Goodfellas from Rhode Island. I couldn’t have made that story up even if I was an expert fiction writer. And I lived to tell it. It just shows that traveling experiences aren’t just about the scenery but also about the people you meet.
I had a very good stay at the Charlestown Breachway and will plan to return next year for a longer stay.