The warehouse home improvement stores have clear 1" pine boards. Consider gluing up two clear pine boards face to face to make your paddle blank. You might consider the more exotic western red cedar for your second paddle.
Consider using Watco Tung Oil (a combination of oil and varnish I think). Watco is available wherever wood finishes are sold and is easy to use. Just follow the instructions on the can.
If you have access to a table saw and a band saw you might consider gluing up and carving a laminated blank.
YakCatcher Rod Holder
Full Size Sail Rig
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