Welcome to Sailnet, Sea Witch.
For reading material, check out this thread on recommended reading
In between buying all the books you might want to peruse the Cruising and Liveaboard
You will find that half of the responses will tell you to just jump on a boat and sail away, the other half will suggest that you should take some sailing courses, learn your legal responsibilities as a boat owner and the rules of the road, charter, make sure the entire family even likes to sail and live in a space the size of your shoe closet.
Whichever course you take, good luck.