Cruisingdad has some very valid points... which I agree with completely. You also might want to look at crewing via a short-term crew placement company. If you're determined to sail on a smaller boat, then you definitely should get references and such.
A good way to meet prospective sailors and boats is to join or hang out at a local marina or yatch club. That way you can meet the people in a less dangerous setting, and may get some good experience, references and possibly referrals that way...
A float plan is also a very good idea... not just for your safety, but for the safety of the boat in general.
Another possible route is to sign up with a windjammer type company as crew.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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