Originally Posted by michigancruisers
So then people generally consider it "off shore". I would have thought so....
No, it is not considered off shore sailing; Deffinitely Coastal Cruising.
The great thing about the Great Lakes is that you are very rarley more than 20 -30 miles to your next safe harbor.
Even on your jaunt from Traverse to Chicago there are plenty of oportunites to get off the water if things turn nasty. What is the widest point of the lake? Grand Haven to Milwaukee. At that point the lake is 83 Statute Miles wide, so even in the very middle of the fattest part of the lake you are still only 40 miles from a harbor.
This is not to say that the lake can not or will not kick you butt, but it is deffinitely not considered "Blue Water". (Other than the color) See Eryka's response; off shore means many days at sea with nowhere to hide.
Edit: I see I have repeated a lot of what Tomandchris has said. Good post T&C