Russ, my thought for people getting their first boat is a constant: buy an inexpensive (probably used) boat that you feel comfortable sitting in, all the while knowing that it will not be a boat that you will regard as a long-term "keeper". (Though it is possible you'll keep it as a boat to put visiting relatives and friends into.) Buy and read a bunch of sea kayaking manuals, and meanwhile get out there and paddle, prudently but often. Take some lessons. You'll all the while be learning what it is about you, sea kayaking, and a (future) boat that is important to your safety and happiness as a paddler. It often seems to take the third boat before one experiences Nirvana in the cockpit.