We decided to shorten the initial learning curve on "big boat" sailing with a weeklong course at Colgate''s Offshore Sailing School (the Captiva, FL location) last Feb. We were very satisfied with the quality of the instruction and benefited emormously.
I went from absolutely minimal sailing experience in the past 25 years, to skippering a 45'' sloop with very high confidence in my first charter in Jun 02. I could not have done that without the course, or lots of individual days on the water under a good instructor. The latter just was not possible for us.
I would strongly recommend, however, that you attend the course after very thorough preparation on your own (using the course''s materials, ideally). The course we took was very fast paced (especially the classroom). Basically, you had to KNOW the material very well, then the class was just to reconfirm that you knew it. There is almost no time to learn it there.
If you have to use all your brain cells during the course trying to learn the COLREGS, or the theory behind sail trim, or anchoring, or windage effects, etc., I fear you will not be ready to benefit as well from the important part about actually handling the boat.
Of course, this is just my opinion from one person''s experience. BTW, if you have a flexible schedule, Colgate''s school offers a 50% discount if you join their "last minute club," or whatever it''s called. Good luck.