Thanks so much for the very helpful suggestions. I'm particularly glad that someone has experience with the Mariner Sailing School - as I'm in DC it is much closer than Annapolis, and seems to offer a very good value. (My one concern was that there might not be enough wind on the Potomac to learn properly.)
I had looked into the Annapolis Sailing School, but had crossed it off the list because I found a comment (yelp? here?) that they didn't refund or reschedule classes if there was bad weather.
I will also look into a community sailing program. I found one here, but the marina looked to be highly unpleasant (very urban, have to motor around cruise ships). I hadn't thought to extend that search to Annapolis.
1. That's always the chance you take!!
2. I don't go out in small craft warnings, but I think you will find that unless there is lightning, the show goes on!!
3. Community sailing programs are great for the committed but some require as much time as ownership itself.
The long and short of it is, you are going to spend about $400
You may get good weather or bad, but either will give you experience.
When our instructor said "today we are learning to reef the main" instead of going home I just
but it was an experience!!