Paddles are very personal. I’d probably check out the local classifieds and try to find something that isn’t too heavy/clunky that will get you on the water. Over time you’ll develop preferences on length, blade shape and size, shaft shape and size, material, etc.
Find a paddle collector who will let you try several lengths and types , Euro , GP, wing.
Start with what feels good and keep looking.
There are thousands of words here dedicated to paddles.
I’m a lightweight and always have 2 with me. Probably been through a dozen.
I always got Snapdragon skirts, including a custom-fit one (might have cost a whopping $10 extra). Excellent quality but they might have closed shop.
Likewise, I favored Werner paddles: Shuna, Cyprus, Sherpa (WW). All high angle blades. I still have a 200cm Shuna in mint condition that I no longer need (sold my sea kayak two years ago).
Shuna and Cyprus have similar but not identical blade shapes, with the Cyprus being extra-light. I used Shuna as my daily driver and thought its weight was light—it WILL feel light to you because you’re used to the noticeably heavier WW paddles of similar materials and blade styles. Heavier despite the shorter shafts, even.
Werner definitely still is in business and still answers questions.
For paddles, I agree the best thing to do is meet up with someone who has a large collection and try a few of theirs, preferably for the duration of paddle you will be doing. There are simply too many variables to predict what you will want to use long term. If this is not an option, then there are two ways to go. The cheap way is to buy a big box aluminum shaft paddle, sized for low angle stroke according to a paddle size chart (find the chart on any paddle manufacturers site). Try it low angle, try it high angle, shorten the shaft with a hacksaw until it fits reasonably well. At the end of this process you will know if you want a high angle or low angle design, and will have a better idea of what length to buy. Then it is just a matter of picking your price/weight/ruggedness balance point and deciding on a brand. The expensive way is to start out buying a good quality, but not absolute top end paddle (Werner Shuna, for example) sized based on the chart, and paddle with it until you realize “This paddle would be better if it were just a little ____________” Then you buy a paddle with that characteristic, make the first paddle your spare, rinse and repeat. You will ultimately have a few paddles you really like after this process, and you can either sell the others used at a modest loss, or become the guy who loans various paddles to newbies to help them find out what they need. If you enjoy woodworking, you should also make yourself a Greenland stick as you may find you like it better. I like having both a high angle and a Greenland paddle for longer trips, I switch depending on conditions, fatigue, or whim. Personally I have no use for low angle euro paddles, but they are ideal for some paddlers.
They have the Werner Shana paddle in the shop where I bought the boat - looks like 210 is the standard size for my height. I’ll start with that.
Looks like I can order an IR spray skirt that will fit me and the boat (at least for the summer). Once we get to winter and I put on the drysuit I’ll probably need a custom order. Kind of scary to put the tape measure around my waist.
Rinse 4 pc. paddle all the time after saltwater. No problems don’t take blades off only once. Rinse everything after saltwater. Shauna will be nice paddle for you. I take my fiberglass Shauna in winter for a spare on deck.
You may have no shoulder issues, but if you do (or will) a light paddle isn’t just nice, it is mandatory if you wish to continue paddling. Similarly a low angle stroke is more merciful. Greenland paddles (GPs) are especially easy on the shoulders for most folks. A large blade Euro is much less so. In my own case, my bone-on-bone arthritic shoulder likes a GP or the quill style - one of the paddles made by Nimbus.
I should mention… I ordered my IR skirt from some retailer or another. Whatever chart they had me use was wrong. The first skirt they sent was way too tight for my coaming. I sent it back for the next size up and it’s been perfect.
Snapdragon made an excellent neoprene skirt, but they are out of business. I just replaced mine with a Seals Surf 1.2 neoprene skirt. The 1.2 was nearly impossible to find, but I hear that Seals has resumed shipping neoprene skirts to dealers again. Still might take a while. I don’t know of anyone that has had to buy a separate skirt to use with a drysuit.
As far as paddles, the large majority of paddlers use low angle paddles. Most people find they are easier on the shoulders and the muscles used are generally naturally better conditioned to low angle style. I’ve found that even people with high angle paddles, many of them do not paddle consistently in a high angle style. People into competitive kayaking use high angle paddles almost exclusively, usually wing paddles. High angle style is a bit more efficient but most find it harder on the body.
As far as feathering, most paddles are adjustable. Play around at first to see what you are comfortable with and then stick with it. More and more paddlers are now going with unfeathered paddles. If an unfeathered paddle suits you, you can use just about any paddle with almost no learning curve. The whole idea of changing the feather angle according to the wind is bogus. You want your feather angle to be in muscle memory if you suddenly need to roll or brace. You don’t want to make a spectacle of yourself when you go to brace or show off your awesome acceleration only to have the paddle blade slice uselessly through the water as you capsize. The valid reason for feathering a paddle is to set up a paddle that is most comfortable for you to use. Some paddlers find a feathered paddle easier on their wrists and shoulders.