Overwhelmed sailing novice seeks advice
Hi everyone! I just joined this forum and I would appreciate any advice members can give me on the best and most cost effective way to get some sailing experience.
For a little background...I live in Toronto and this Feb. I enrolled in a sailing school in Florida and enrolled in ASA courses 101, 103 & 104 an intense week. That is the extent of my sailing experience. While it has always fascinated me I never did anything about it until now. While I successfully completed the courses and my instructor said I am ready to sail I still feel overwhelmed by solo sailing - which is my goal.
None of my family or friends are into sailing and my dream is to own a boat in Florida, live on it for weeks at a time and be able to solo sail to the Caribbean! I'm 56 with grown kids and semi-retired so if I don't do it now I never will!
What is the best and most cost effective way for me to develop experience to the point where I can solo sail in the Gulf? Is there a form of sailing school that would assist me with this? I've heard of sailing clubs but because I don't live in Florida do they make sense? Would it be cheaper and better to get this experience somewhere other than Florida? Are there Captains/Skippers I can hire cheaply(!) to go out with me? If I rent a boat would the rental come with a skipper? Ultimately I'd like to buy a boat but until I get that experience and comfort level I don't even know which type of boat or features I am looking for....
Any advice, assistance or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for your time!