How do I start?
I guess I never really realized how lucky I was, learning to sail at age 10, starting in dingy''s and moving up through larger and more complex craft, and now 37 years later, it is an integral part of my life.
But the basic principal remains the same. Take lessons and start out small. It is amazing how by learning to properly sail a small boat will give you a greater understanding of how it all works. Larger cruising boats just seem to mask all the underlying details.
I started in a sailing program at my fathers yacht club on a Blue Jay. Main, Jib, Spinn, no motor. It gave you direct response to every action and you could get an incredible feel for what you were doing. Most importantly, you learned all the basics. Sort of the sailing equivalent to "I learned everything I needed to know about life in Kindergarten" Once those basic principals were firmly entrenched, all other aspects were just fine tuning the process. I guess you could say that learning in something like a Blue Jay is the equivalent of a Cessna 172.
Every day I sail, I am using those basic principals I learned. It also amazes me when I watch someone who learned on a larger cruising boat do something wrong that should have been second nature to them.
Start out small, move up as you are more comfortable, and enjoy the sense of freedom sailing gives you.