Finding a mentor is good, and shouldn't be too difficult if you're located in Rhode Island. Let it be known around a yacht club, marina, or friends that you'd like to crew and you'd be surprised how easy it can be to get a ride. I find it's easiest to learn (and teach) sailing by doing it at the same time as you're doing the book-learning part.
Don't be reluctant to ask questions here as often as you need to. Usually several sailors, some of whom are instructors on occasion, are happy to respond, "no strings attached"..