I'm definitely no salt - but you can do it on the cheap. I bought our C27 before really knowing anything (we had paid for 2 1-hour charters where the captain showed us a bit about sailing). Our boat was such a good deal, I couldn't pass it up. She was in pretty rough shape (and picky salts would have probably advised us to keep looking) - but she was in the water and ready to sail.
My take is...don't drop a ton of money on training, etc. Find a cheap boat that can sail - and find a friend that knows something about sailing. Take them out and let them teach you. It's not that hard.
Just make sure the conditions are right, the area is forgiving (not much to run into), and you have a reliable motor to get you out of a jam.
You're gonna have a blast.
PS - Though I personally did virtually none of the stuff on the list (and my boat would have failed most of the checks anyway), check out is thread for an exhaustive list of stuff to look for when buying a boat:
Boat Inspection Trip Tips