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first, go back to your local tackle shop. if possible go mid-morning or mid-afternoon mon,tues, or wed, when they will not be so busy.
they should be happy to invest their time in a new customer starting out. if not,(unlikely) go elsewhere. stop by often, they will be most able to meet your specific needs.
likewise for party boats.
for surf you will want a 10 or 11 foot rod, and for boat a 7 foot rod. assuming spinning, a penn 6500ss or 7500ss is a decent reel. parts are everywhere, and easy to fix or get fixed locally.
you could use this reel on either rod, and maybe pick up a spare spool for a diferent line option.

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