I was just reading your Surfmatters post from Joe in Mass and have a suggestion for him? Over the years I've experimented with the same issue he's describing. For matting cold NE water in the Winter the very best type of mittens are ones that have quality built in sharkskin material for the palms. Hyperflex 6mm or 7mm oven mitts are by far the very best example I have found.
With very best wishes,