I think NJ sailing school has a club attached to the school...they used to have mentors that would go out with their rental customers until they built skill and confidence and were approved to take the boats out by themselves. They have 26' pearsons and 22' capri's
They are on the Metedeconk River now.
True North Sailing School in Jersey City has a Club, they sail in NY harbor..( an hour from Barnegat, I know) They have 4 J-24's. Membership is pretty reasonable if you use it.
You'd get to sail in trickier waters and learn a little more about tides and currents, Rules of the road..etc..