Yes, the Great lakes get nasty, and fast. I grew up on Erie, and witnessed some pretty big water, and yes it would kick up in thirty minutes - if you were out, and saw something coming from the North - North East, better be moving quick to get in.
I have some, but not much experience in the Gulf of Mex, but I would imagine it get's just as rough or not rougher (depending on how far you go out to play), but likely doesn't kick up as quick.
The inland lakes always have the washboard effect - the great lakes have a similar effect, but it's over a wider range.
No experience in the ocean, but from everything I've heard described, it sounds similar to the Gulf.
The Great Lakes are still Offshore in my book.
And as far as "the boring mid-west" - PIB, Key West of the North.
As far as the Beak running good - experienced driver, good set-up, good read of the waves, sure, good run.
Maybe some of the old tanks are a little more forgiving, or a little more user friendly - causing less work from the captain.
Lighter layups, and exotic hull designs - you have to be a little more careful on how you run - the old heavy wave crushers will run through anything with less effort from the driver.
I can't believe I just threw my hat in this ring....
Go ahead boys...Toe the line...