Good to have you in the fraternity and I think you're right on at taking it gradually. I must warn you, though, your other hobbies will most likely get pushed aside. That's okay--it's part of the deal. Good paddling.
Since I'm kinda deep into photography, I may have to argue that point. I anticipate doing some shooting on the water (have a waterproof-to-40m case for my Canon ELPH).
And I'm getting to old and my knees to creaky to do the kind of hiking, backpacking and mountain-climbing I used to do. The Jeeps serve to get me "there"... and now the boat will get me a little further away from the madness of the city.
And thanks, I do feel welcomed!