Good to hear from you... replacing the cable is probably going to suck. What most people I know do is yank the cable and chain and take it to a rigging shop and have them replace the cable.
Regarding Jeff/Zora... that sucks... your friends really need to be more respectful of your time and especially, IMHO, since they're not the ones paying for the boat.
BTW, if your holding tank was that full, chances are excellent that you've also clogged the holding tank vent...and you need to clear that ASAP. Without a clear vent line, the only bacteria that will breed in the holding tank are anaerobic and they're the ones that make the tank really stink.
Lavac heads are some of the more efficient ones, so if you're going to be replacing them... the Lavacs are probably the way to go. They're also some of the most trouble-free of all the marine heads made...as a bonus.
I also generally recommend that new owners go through the fuel system and mark the bleed points with brightly color paint (neon yellow is good). Makes bleeding the fuel system in a hurry much simpler.
Murphy is your constant companion on a sailboat.
Close and dog all hatches before sailing...
Don't ask me how I know this.
BTW, sailing out of the marina, if the wind is on the beam or aft, unrolling a bit of roller furling head sail is much simpler and faster than raising the main.
You might want to install a fuel pump bulb in the fuel line, to help in bleeding the system.
As for your GF... sounds like a keeper...