Starter advice? Not suer I'm qualified for that, but here are a few things:
1. Take an intro course somewhere to learn about the sport, general paddle strokes, gear, boats, fitting into a boat, etc. I took one at a community college in Charlotte, NC. Cost= $ 100 for a weekend course.
2. Buy used gear. No need for new stuff when you are learning. Its not like MTB- there aren't any moving parts. A used boat is still great. They get banged up anyway. Try www.boatertalk.com
3. boats fall into 2 basic categories: whitewater and touring/sea. For whitewater, stay away from "playboats" to start- it will only frustrate you and make you want to quit- ha. The longer the boat, the easier it is to "track (stay straight." The flatter the hull (bottom) of the boat, the harder it is to learn to "roll" the boat. Playboats are short w/ flat hulls. Lots of fun, but miserable to learn with.
4. A river running boat or creek boat would be good for learning.
Hope that helps.