Hello Nigel, As you've guessed there as many opinions as types of boat. Personally I would look at the hull
shape vis a vis the waters I would be sailing in. In Cushendall harbour in Northern Ireland
I was given a sunken plywood
dinghy with a hole in it as my first 'boat', 4 truck tyres and some rope
and with a bit of impromptu diving
it was recovered, repaired and went on to give my (then)young family
many hours of pleasure. I've had a boat ever since and have lived onboard since 1985 and wouldn't change my way of life for all the tea in China
. I would scour boating
magaines and put an add on e-bay, gumtree etc for an abandoned boat and take your pick of what's offered. I have a brother who bought a narrow boat and did the engineering work himself and swapped skills with a cabinet maker but still took 2 years to finish the boat. A friend of mine bought a sailaway from RLL boats in Keynsham (disaster) and is still fitting it out 3 years later and is desperate to get rid off it. as for the 'Pink gin brigade in the 'Yacht club', dump them and look elsewhere, genuine sailors belong to a brotherhood and there should be no barriers to being friendly and helpful to a fellow sailor.
We are all equal at sea.
Have courage and I wish you every success for the future.