John, you will probably find it simpler and more effective to take a Basic Sailing course then Advanced Sailing course, typically each 3 days on weekends in 24' boats. It is simpler to learn "just the sailing" part, without the bigger more complex boat. And then, either pause to practice more sailing (and perhaps look into racing
sailing, because every cruiser becomes a racer
when there's only one opening left at the marina you are trying to reach for dinner<G>) before moving on to the really expensive course, i.e. cruising aka bareboating which is usually a week spent on board something in the 36-42 foot size. That will usually presume you know the basics of sailing, and while you will be sailing, it will concentrate more on systems, seacocks, anchoring
, etc. All very different from the basics of learning
to sail a boat and trim the sails
. (No reason to use the big expensive boat to teach those basics.)
"a basic cruising license" No such thing in the US. If you have certifications from a major independent school (like Offshore
Sailing School) or from the ASA, they will be accepted to some extent by any large charterer. But without sailing experience and a log book to show, they may still require you to go out with one of their captains for an hour to prove you can handle their boat.