||For some sailors, cruising means sailing to a harbor or anchorage away from home, spending the night, and sailing home next day. For others, cruising means sailing to the South Pacific and spending a lot of time doing it. There are a lot of ways to go cruising, from overnight to a week or two to a lifetime; for many sailors, cruising is the perfect vacation.
You needn't be around Cape-Horn sailor to enjoy an overnight or weekend cruise; you do need to be a capable sailor with well-developed seamanship skills and a knowledge of coastal piloting. You don't need any particular knowledge, though, to accompany knowledgeable friends, so perhaps the best way to get into cruising is to land an invitation.
If you're a capable sailor, you don't even need to have a boa to go cruising; boats can be chartered all around the United States, in the Caribbean, and in many other parts of the world. If you're looking for a taste of the cruising life, you can charter a boat with crew; you can learn a lot about sailing on a crewed chatered and find out why sailors love cruising. The March and August issues of SAIL are a good place to find information.
A number of sailing schools affer learn-to-cruise courses for those who already know how to sail.