: So I should paddle alone on my own schedule?
If you paddle as an active participant in maintaining the safety of the group, going with a group is safer than paddling solo. If you go with the thought that "all these good paddlers will keep me safe", they might or they may lead you to a place where you are beyond your limits.
One key to this is self awareness of your own abilities. If you are venturing beyond your abilities you may be putting a large burden on the group to keep you safe, yet if you never push your limits you will never grow in your abilities.
Some inexperienced kayakers do not even have enough experience to evaluate what they are capable of. It is one thing to stand on a beach with sea breeze and 5' waves rolling in, and another to stand on lee shore sheltered from a 50 knot wind looking at the glassy bay close to shore and making a reasoned judgment on whether you should launch. (clue: you are pretty sure to make it back ashore in the 5' waves).
To help people make a judgment I've gathered information from several sources to make a Beaufort Scale for Sea Kayakers. This tries to connect wind speeds (that you can get from a weather forecast) with what you will experience on the water: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39907771/KayakersBeaufortScale
This scale is a work in progress, but the idea is: if you know what skills you have you can get an idea how they might work in the conditions you are venturing into and make a reasoned judgment whether or not you will go paddling.
This of course assumes you are able to honestly evaluate your own skills.
The Connyak BBS