I'd still recommend a local sailing club, just to crew in races. There's a lot of tactics, wind
reading, and sail trimming to learn and little cost.
And you can do it several times a week. Buying
a bigger boat leaves you with too much travelling and not enough days.
Your local coastlines are pretty good though, I'd suggest buying
for the area you already know quite well then just get down to the marina's at weekends and see what's happening. You might get a bargain, you might get some free trips, you might even be ballast on a fast boat, they always want guys to sit on the rail but you don't do too much. Join the club that has what you want and go from there. Enjoy the new dimension to what is already a pretty full life by the sound of it.