Ahh, cold weather wear....tricky subject. Perception of winter sailing will be much different from those of us living in the north compared to those sailing in Florida. In my opinion, dressing for cold weather kayaking is different than for cold weather sailing. The one common denominator is that you must be able to survive in the water conditions if you happen to go for a swim. Ideally in this region, I would prefer to wear a dry suit in winter weather but finances dictate different apparel. The following is what I currently wear in NH until ice in:
base layer: I wear a thin poly long underwear top and bottom to wick away sweat away from my skin. I have thin poly gloves/socks to achieve the same on my extremities.
insulating layer: I wear a full 5mm wetsuit over the poly. With neoprene, I seem to get cold because of the inevitable sweat from the wetsuit. I try to control this by only pedaling when absolutely necessary. Once the water gets into the 40's, I add my shorty wetsuit into the mix to add core insulation in case of a swim.
gloves: Thin poly layer, neoprene and a goretex shell to help keep wind and water away.
Feet: poly, super thin neoprene sock and then a thicker neoprene boot. Of all I wear, this part of the system needs some tweaking. I stay away from boots in case of the dreaded swim.
outer layer: I wear my goretex bibs that I use for ice climbing and a goretex shell. I avoid goretex layers with built in insulation. This layer is just to keep wind a water out while maintaining some breathability.
Head: I do not like wetsuit hoods so I wear a balaclava and my jacket hood.
I think wearing the lifejacket with all of this on is important! The neoprene floats but keeping you head high in the cold is extremely important. The energy to do this decreases quickly and aspirating a mouthfull of water is all bad. Having a good plan and leaving it with others is just as important as clothing this time of year. I try to keep a couple methods of communication with me while out as Im usually the only nutcase on the water this time of year.
The following is a great link to some cold water survival videos by Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht. His videos give valuable insight to those recreating or working around cold water, scroll down to the discovery channel vidoeos:
http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/physe ... echt.shtml
For those sailing in winter in warmer climates, regulate this to fit your needs. A full wetsuit and shell could cause you to over heat. A wet suit may be suitable for this as the convection caused by wind will allow your body to cool somewhat.
The above posts have given me some great ideas, thanks to all.