There are at least two Crew Lists on the Web in San Francisco. Latitude 38 and SF Sailing. I'm listed as a Skipper on both, and take novices out all the time. If there is one in your area, make sure you contact Skippers. Don't just put your name on the list and wait for a call. I've developed a list of over 30 people who get emailed when I'm going out and have room on the boat (often). Cal Sailing in Berkely CA is a very cost effective way to learn to sail. You could also put your name on boards in Marinas and Yacht Clubs, but I think the Crew List is the most effective route, short of taking lessons. US Sailing also has good interactive (free) instruction on the Web, where you can learn the rules of the road, and get some basic understanding on whats going on. Then, things will make more sense when you get on a boat!
im in florida so i like the idea about putting my name up with the Marinas and Yacht Clubs. i'll do some research on the web too. thank you!