Need advice on cold water wear please

Hello, as a newbie I need some guidance: I want to try and paddle well into early winter here in N. California on my SOT on lakes, rivers, and possibly protected ocean bays. I have a farmer john wet suit (2 or 3mm) and a pair of neoprene boots. In the even of a spill in cold water, is it necessary that I wear a dry top jacket too or can I get by with my Stearns waterproof jacket (has no seals at wrists or neck)? I was thinking about 2 layers of poly/rash long sleeve shirts under jacket. If drytop needed, suggestions on favorite brands/models appreciated. Thanks very much!

Sorry, I did not see
the good suggestions/information on a post below…my apologies.

Good Info Here
This site has fairly standard advice - this info and taking a swim to gauge where your personal tolerance sits would be a good combo. Look at the topics under Coldwater Safety and Hypothermia.

how long?

– Last Updated: Sep-29-07 9:39 AM EST –

One question - how long does it take to get back on to your boat? Once you know this, you can figure out how long you need to last with the clothing you wear. Choose clothing that will keep you functioning well for at least twice as long as it takes you to get on (chances are if you went over, the conditions that knocked you over will also make it tougher to get back on).

I live in SF and paddle all around the area (mostly bay or ocean). I wear a 3 mm farmer john all the time. I chose whether to put a paddle jacket on based on how comfortable I am with the out of the water temperature.

Note - once you get wet, you will really want that paddle jacket, so if you are questioning whether you need to buy one, I would. A little wind on your wet clothing (and being SOT, you are fully exposed) will chill you pretty quick.

Wet Farmer John
Forgot to mention - referred to above. A wet wetsuit only protects you in the water - once out of the water and up in the wind it can put you into hypotermia real quick. So you always always need to have a reliable and pretty robust wind blocking player in cold water. The value of a full drytop is that it seals better and the material is usually more wind-proof than casual shells.

spill from SOT
get a small fuzzy rubber hood and keep it rolled up in your pfd pocket. It’ll got a long way to keeping heat in after you climb back on the kayak.

Ironically this morning
at 0600 I dressed for air temp’s. It was 40.9F and the relatively warm water was shrouded by a very thick fog…of course after 20 minutes I was a bit too warm in the fleece union suit under the Koka paddling suit but I wanted to practice…safe always better than sorry.

Thanks to all
who posted solid information. Seems a good dry jacket is in order! Really appreciate this site and the helpful posters.