There are A LOT of higher end boats out there that get A LOT of attention and reviews. Rightfully so if you are thinking of spending a ton of money on your recreational investment. If you can't afford or justify dropping $2,000+ on a really high speed boat....I feel your pain. A few years ago I was looking for something I could afford AND fit my needs for recreational paddling, fishing and tripping. During this time we had rented a lakefront place in the Adirondacks for a family vacation. The place had a Pelican Excursion 146 for use by the renters which I used quite a bit. I was impressed enough (especially with price!) to buy one later in the year which I have used extensively since then.
Be forewarned, it is not a fancy lightweight boat. It's heavy walled RamXcel and weighs about 80 pounds making it somewhat of a bear to carry. However, what you lose in portability you gain in durability. These things are tanks and will hold up to river bottoms, log jams, and sharp pointy things well very.
The boat tracks well in the water and the width is comfortable and stable. The molded seats are comfortable enough and newer models have rod holders/cup holders. For you physics majors, once you get that 80 pounds moving in the water, the boat glides along nicely. I have done quite a bit of fishing from the boat and it is stable for casting and general moving around in the boat. As for tripping, as long as you don't plan on any long or difficult carries, you will appreciate the ruggedness and probably be surprised on the handling. I don't think I will ever wear this boat out but if I did I would buy another.
In the water I found the Blackwater is a very stable boat and tracks pretty well. It's for sure not a high speed glider but considering it's large footprint I was very happy with how it handles. The retrackable skeg is a nice touch. I don't do a lot of big open water paddling so I don't know how the skeg enhances performance in the wind. Overall I would say the Blackwater is a fantastic all purpose rec boat. It handles well when loaded with camping gear and tracks well when you're headed to the next fishing spot.