It's good to know I'm not the only "hermit" on the water. There's nothing I'd rather be doing on any given day than paddling and with the exception of maybe 3 outings in the last year all of my paddling has been solo. Like so many of you I enjoy the peace of being out alone. I've not been kayaking long (just over a year). I average probably 2-3 days per week out on the water and will usually paddle 10 to 30 miles each time depending on all of the variables.
My 2 cents worth on what to do: I always carry my Sawyer water filtration system (very compact), A couple bags of freeze dried food, a lighter and waterproof matches for cooking and building a fire, a cup for boiling water in, my pocket rocket stove, and a complete change of clothes, and a towel. All of these items fit in a medium size dry bag where I keep them all of the time so they're ready any time I go out. I also have a deck compass, a gps (extra batteries always in the drybox which stays handy), my cell phone (as much as I would prefer to leave it at home), bailing sponge, bilge pump, rope, knife, rain gear (I haven't purchased a drysuit yet), extra paddle, a paddle leash (connected to the boat and the paddle), and of course (I learned this the hard way) duct tape. I realize this may sound like a lot to some but it takes up a very small amount of space on the boat. The medium drybag goes in the back storage, extra paddle on the rear deck. You get the idea. I keep all of these items where I will just about trip over them when I leave to go paddling so I don't forget them. Some of these things I learned to have with me the hard way, some I paid attention to what I read (don't be hard headed like I can be at times).
My first big "adventure" was last June paddling from White Springs, FL down the Suwannee river to Cedar Key in the Gulf of Mexico, I researched this for about 2 months and paddled every chance I got. I learned a lot on this trip (about myself and travelling by kayak). I never got bored. I'm planning to paddle segments 4 and 5 of the Florida CT this summer. Doing these things solo are truly amazing experiences.
I do paddle close to shore 90 percent of the time. Just seems smart to me. Power boaters don't always see us! Don't become an invisible target when you can avoid it. I hope to be able to roll by this summer.
I can self rescue and do practice it with 14 days worth of camping gear on my boat (actually easier with the boat full) but, I know that rolling will add a degree of confidence when I'm on the water (especially open water) as well as expanding my arsenal of paddling tools.
Happy paddling folks!