a dry suit would be best... but a dry top matched with a pair of waders works pretty well. i spent a couple hours practicing reentry last summer with a dry top and waders and got minimal water intrusion.
Yo Chris, I'll bet that is because your dry top and wader fit well and you are belting them properly. That would probably be fine if one doesn't get separated from one's yak in the surf or nasty wind chop and high winds, and have to swim for it very far. Especially if you have a real "dry top" that seals well, and not just a "splash top" like I have with velcro-sealing neoprene cuff and neck gaskets (which are much more comfortable than latex, but don't seal as well).
Whatever one chooses to wear, it is advised to actually test it in real conditions by purposely capsizing and practicing re-entries.
Manimal, when I'm on my SOT, it is always possible that I might capsize, so when the air and water were cold (less than 50 F), I have worn my winter 5mm surfing wetsuit on the few cold-season go-outs I've done. A drysuit would be better, but costs at least twice as much. (I have been eyeing the Kokatat T3 Super Nova Angling suit, keeping alert for any really good sales). The rule of thumb for kayakers in Pacific NW waters is to dress for the water temp and immersion.
When its too cold for a wide-brimmed hat, I wear an old Woolrich ski cap I originally got back in 1965! I might get a new one in dayglo hunter orange, so power boaters can see me better.
I recently purchased a 3mm farmer john paddling wetsuit that was on sale reasonably cheap at NRS (close-out of last years model of the "Ultra John") and a longsleeve pullover Hydroskin top to wear with it, layered. It is snug-fitting, but feels comfortable, so I think it will be right for the job. You always want wetsuits to be snug-fitting, but still allow freedom of movement without binding or rubbing you raw in spots. Proper fit is very important for them to work and still remain comfortable. I know that with surfing wetsuits made here in the USA, like those made by Hotline and O'Neill (I wear or have worn both brands), one can usually order one custom for an exact fit (must try 'em on and get measured, though), or have them custom altered. Loose-fitting wetsuits just don't work very well...they let in too much water. I'm lucky and a standard size L usually fits me fine, right off the rack.
Haven't worn those paddling yet, since I haven't gone out in the ocean fishing in my SOT yet this season. The john has a full-lenght zipper and relief fly on the front, and a cordura-armored seat. On my feet I wear either 3mm thick neoprene kayak booties or my 5mm surfing booties.
I have a breathable, pullover splash jacket (not a "dry top, as it doesn't seal) to wear over this for wind-chill protection.
In my Ultimate 12, which is a sit-inside, sort of like a hybrid "low-profile" canoe and very stable, I wear my breathable waders (in the winter or if the water is cold and I plan to get out and wade at some point), and a fleece top over a first layer of capilene, with my splash jacket handy if it rains or gets windy. I usually wear the 3mm kayak booties with this.
After it warms up a bit, I wear shorts or boardshorts (not cotton) and a UPF 50 longsleeve top and wide-brimmed yak hat, with outer layers aboard to put on for when it gets cooler. Sometime I wear shorts over capilene longjohns. I am investing in more UPF clothing. Beats the shell out of always applying sunscreen.
I usually wear cheap rain pants (about 1/10 the cost of those fancy gortex "paddling pants") over my paddling shorts, which serve to keep splashes of cold water, ultraviolet rays, and bugs off my legs. I'm not worried about falling in out of this very stable boat. I think it would be nearly impossible for me to fall out of this craft when sitting in it, and I usually only stand and cast from it in calm water on small lakes, or back in the calm waters of the estuaries or tidal creeks. So I don't usually dress for the water temp in this boat, but for my own comfort based on what the weather is doing.
In all my life, I have never fallen out of a boat due to loss of balance or carelessness, except for twice when being forcibly ejected due to radical squirreling at the controls by an insane operator (not myself): once when playing in the surf in a Zodiac; and the other time sailing a Hobie 16 in 25+ mph winds (we cart-wheeled and "turtled" it! What fun!)
Both times, the same fiend was at the tiller.
We will have go out on warmer safe days and test different apparel.
How do you like the ultimate 12? i am thinking of getting this for my girlfriend. Is it light enough for her to carry herself? Is it easy to get in and out of?
Right now she uses the same prowler 15 as me and i think it just maybe too much boat for her to paddle to keep with me.
Manimal, I like my Ultimate 12 for any calmer waters where there is little danger of being swamped or capsized by rapids, waves or boat wakes. Its my favorite boat for paddling slow moving rivers, tidal creeks, and the smaller lakes I like to fish. I've had it out in the salt on calmer days, around the mouth of Sequim Bay, and out in Grays Harbor off the mouth of the Johns River and all around the Elk River estuary. I'd paddle in the Sound and Canal on calmer days with no worries except maybe being run over by a power boat. I've been caught out in rougher water (heading downstream under the Elk River bridge) fighting 15-20 mph winds back to the launch heading directly into it, and only making headway because I was paddling with the max ebbing tide, and it easily handled 1' to 1.5' wind waves, since I had the bow spray skirts installed. Without those, I'd have taken on some water.
It depends on where you are paddling. In calmer waters, the two different craft would do fine together.
The U-12 is really a "low-profile" canoe with a tunnel/pontoon hull, and it does not self-bail thru scuppers like a SOT yak. So its not a safe craft for the open ocean. Its more stable than a traditional canoe, and paddles nicely with the kayak paddle, but I wouldn't take a canoe out on the ocean. Get it capsized or swamped in nasty wind waves or surf, and its a PITA to deal with. I carry two bailing "cans" with me. One leashed in as a spare. One might want a paddle float and/or stirrup rig as an aid to help re-enter. Its kind of an apple to the orange that is the Prowler 15, not really a good match up, considering their different capabilities.
Native Craft no longer offers the pop-down skeg on the Ultimate 12, and that is one of the features I like about mine, since I make good use of it every go-out. I think its a shame that they no longer offer it...I think that it is because they got some complaints and negative feedback on it. The drop-down skeg operates via a sliding cable, within a sheath. Sometimes it gets difficult to slide. I lube mine each season with some Tri-Flow on the upper end (can't get to the skeg end of the cable).
You have to actually pay attention to what you are doing and watch out that you don't jam up the skeg box with debris and mud when you launch, portage, or beach. If you do that, the skeg won't pop down, so you must head for shore and clean out the skeg box. I figured that out right away, and I don't let mine get jammed up.
If I were to get another U-12, I'd probably pay the extra for the "Tegris" model, since the makers of tegris material claim it to be nearly bulletproof, and its much lighter and stiffer than roto-molded polyethylene. The Tegris U-12 has no pop-down skeg, but it is over 15 lbs lighter than the poly hull, which is about 48 lbs bare with the seat removed. The Tegris model is only 36 lbs with the seat in, so it probably hits the scales in the low 30's without the seat. That helps makes it a quicker and livelier hull for paddling, and much easier for portaging.
If your GF is going to accompany you out in the ocean, sound or any rougher conditions, maybe she should get a SOT yak similar to yours, but smaller and lighter. Many good SOT yaks come in the 11' 12' and 13' lengths.