I will bring a drysuit for sure as I really dislike cold water and am used to southeast water which is about the warmest in the country. Under that however, should I just wear a skin or a bathing suit? Also, are gloves advisable?
generally still cold
Unless you are in a protected bay far in the sound (so not really seeing tidal waters from the ocean) or are in an area fed by a river that is warm, the waters are generally cold. And the air temps are not always that warm either. I’d have light long sleeve layers below the dry suit, if it is warm.
Some water temp readings are available here: http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/npac.html
In warmer air/colder water situations I generally wear lightweight long underwear bottoms and a lightweight wicking long sleeve shirt under the drysuit. Personally, I don't care for the feeling of drysuit material against exposed skin, and it's pretty easy to stay cool on the water.
As for gloves, I generally don't wear them in moderately cold water (50s and 60s), but it's probably not a bad idea to have them with you, particularly on a rainy day. Same goes for head protection.
Lightweight long underwear
The drysuit is just a shell, not much insulation in itself. Best to wear some wicking long-sleeved or -legged layer(s) underneath. If the air is hot, go with the thinnest fabric you have. You can always cool off by getting in the water, or by removing PFD and sprayskirt and opening a zipper when you stop for a break. I seem to remember you stating that you have a "combat" roll, so you can always cool down that way, too.
I stopped wearing gloves in spring, but it's a good idea to bring them with you for the overcast, windy, cool days...just in case.
I choose to wear…
…the light weight Icebreaker long sleeve tops and any kind of light weight (poly or wool) bottoms. I also dislike the feel of tricot against bare skin so I wear long sleeve tops. Glacier Gloves are always on the deck but not often worn this time of year. If it gets windy and wet the gloves feel right.
If you think you might end up in the water, dress for cool water, but whenever I’ve been paddling in Puget sound, or Hood Canal in the summer, I just wear shorts and a long sleeved shirt so I don’t have to worry about sun-burned arms. But then I don’t plan to get in the water above my ankles. I also wear paddling gloves to keep my hands from being sun-burned.
drysuits in july
Though plenty of people wear their drysuits in july around here, you hopefully have a good roll for regular roto-cooling. There’s not much point in wearing a drysuit and no insulation. You would be better off in thin neoprene. Thin smartwool or some other high priced merino product is the current trend because instead of eye watering B.O. like you get with polypro, it makes you smell like a wet sheep after a few days.
The water is about 55F. Just since last Friday we’ve had air temps from 51 to 94F. I wear neoprene pants, wool top and a short sleeve drytop in the summer and a long sleeve out on the coast in rougher conditions.
better than eye-watering BO I guess
>makes you smell like a wet sheep after a few days<
Very enticing indeed. Perhaps that can be the slogan of Smartwool's new ad campaign? As a lover of goat cheese though, I am wondering if there is any product that can make me smell like a musty goat teet.
Dress for immersion. The sound is 55 degrees in summer and all the rivers are cold. Tidal range around 4 feet or more will evident anyplace with salt water.
It is big water so you need to be able to self-rescue. Best to paddle in a group. Watch for ferries, barge traffic with cables, and large ships. Bring a tide table. Many rips are faster than the speed you can paddle.
Think layers you can change
When the water is cool like 55F and the day time temps can bounce around from low 50s to 90s. You want to have layers you can change off.