I've been in boating
for years, however I'm not a sailor. But I'll say a few basic things to get started.
Yes, that sounds like a reasonable way to get started. You'll learn a lot by starting with a project
boat. It'll be more work than you think, but you'll really know your boat inside and out. One thing you'll probably learn, is that as nice as wood boats are, when you go bigger, you probably don't want one. But if you REALLY like working on boats or have REALLY deep pockets, there's nothing like the ride and sounds you get from a big planked boat (I had a 36' stinkpot that was awesome, but way too expensive to maintain).
So, that leads to the next point. Starting small is another good idea. So many people start too big and then decide it's too much for them. Here, if you decide it's not for you, you haven't sold the house, right?
$800 seems high for a starting bid, but if the trailer is good, maybe not too bad. They say "some soft spots". That can turn into a total rebuild
. I couldn't see going much higher than $800. You MUST go see it first. And take an experienced person with you if you can scare one up.
I'd say you have the right ideas. Hopefully some people in this forum from your area can give you some ideas on the market there and say if that particular boat sounds like a good idea.
Since I don't have room for a project
boat, I'm planning to join a sailing club at some point. So, I'll be starting out without a sailboat. That's another option for you. But I still think your approach is probably better.
You can combine the two ideas if your sailing club has it's own boats or if someone there offers lessons on their own boat. Join the club while your still working on yours. You may get lots of good advice that way. Maybe even some free help!
Regardless, hang out in here. I have learned tons about sailing just by reading. I now probably know about 10% of what I need to know. And that's a step up.