Paddle with buddies: You’re safer
To realize that is only a half-truth...and potentially a dangerous mindset, all you need to do is read Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble. When conditions get ugly, those buddies may very well be unable to help you, except to help authorities find your body. I believe the best advice is that if you don't think you can handle a paddle solo, you shouldn't go. That doesn't mean you should go solo, but you should have sufficient skills and equipment that doing so would be reasonable. Think of your buddies like you do safety equipment: they're backups, which you should never depend on.
Wet suit and dry suit: Pack one.
Packing it will only give you false reassurance. You need to wear it.