Thank you all for your insights. My thought is as you suggest, to learn the basics and build basic skills and a good foundation with the dinghy
as I think it will give me far more sailing time for less money. Plus I can sail on my schedule and in water of my choice. Yes, I will definitely wear a quality PFD. I hope then to follow the suggestions made to try and help others with their boats as volunteer crew; learning from those with more experience. If I get the opportunity I plan eventually to take an ASA or US Sailing course to benefit from the experience and obtain a recognized certificate. Once I have the foundation I hope to then move up to boats larger in size and of different character to build a solid resume/log for future charters in Florida...perhaps someday my own Westsail 32, Nor'sea 27 or Albin Vega.