Depending on your needs the 309/320,etc., or even the old versions of them, are fully capable of cruising the Great Lakes. People leave TC, or Leland, or whereever every day of the season and cross to somewhere in boats a lot less seaworthy than the boats listed.
That being said, beelining it because it is on the schedule, is not a prudent course of action on any of the Lakes. Staying out there because you are on that schedule not a good idea. Three foot breaking chop is uncomfortable, ten foot breaking waves a lot more uncomfortable, but the boats will take a lot more than you and your crew ever will in those situations.
Crossing to Wisconsin from GT Light is a 70 mile straight line trip. Sailing, 70-100+ miles dependent on the winds. You are never more than 35 miles away from land out there, and that does not count the Islands. This certainly more than fits the description of Coastal , even if you decide to cruise down the middle of the lake to Chicago. Coastal also means that you have the ability to duck in somewhere when it gets bad.
I also sail out of TC. I hope you enjoy the boat buying process and sailing the lake. There are lots of great places to visit, and if you get to half of them in ten years you will be the exception. If I were to guess, I would say that no more than 25% of the boats in the Bay leave the Bay more than once a year. Many never leave the lower Bay and stay south of Suttons Bay.I hope that you are one of the exceptions. Sail safe.
Oh, have you found a slip yet? I know that they are finally available in the Bay, which had been the exception for many years. Not a lot of extras, but I keep hearing that they are there.
I just looked at your list of Catalinas. Dependent on whether you have a slip already, I would add the C36 as well. I say that because many of the marinas in the Bay have 30' LOA slips and then jump to 38' LOA. None of the boats listed would likely go into a 30' slip as Catalina LOA is always longer than the name it carries. Therefore you will most likely end up in a 38' slip. Eliminate the early stages of 2' itis and buy a bigger boat first. The C36 is a great family cruiser and I know that they are available used in TC. Of course there are lots of different brand boats that also fit into the $ and use range.
Last edited by tomandchris; 05-07-2010 at 12:01 PM.