Nevertheless we were at Air-Sea Safety & Survival in downtown Charleston shortly after they opened at 9am to pick up our Switlik 6-man life raft. They've had it for nearly two months as they had several replacement parts on backorder. We were on the fence about keeping it...it's an old raft (1996) but it has held up remarkably well, inflating immediately and retaining its air thereafter. The repacking/refurbishment came to $1800, over half the cost of a new raft of a cheaper brand. Our decision was made when the repacker, having seen the condition it was in, remarked "frankly, I'd rather be at sea in this 20-year-old Switlik than that 2-year-old Viking over there."
After we got back to the boatyard we hoisted the heavy raft into its cradle and started to reinstall the hydrostatic release when another line of heavy rain chased us inside. There we repacked the ditch bag and finished the mast wiring plus a couple small projects before the rain let up enough to finish with the raft. We had lunch and then drove to Ace Hardware, West Marine, Petco, and Bed Bath & Beyond for a long list of items we need before heading south. We were remarkably productive as we found almost everything we needed, except for a spare water system pump (I used the spare to replace the original in August)...West Marine will have that in tomorrow.
We got back just as all the boatyard workers were heading home but were happy to see that the stem iron had been delivered and put on the boat (temporarily, with two carriage bolts). So full installation, finishing the standing rigging, and starting the running rigging should commence tomorrow.
The rainy day became a fairly pleasant evening and we grilled salmon and asparagus outside on our stern grill. During one of the lulls today we installed our enclosure curtains so our cockpit will now stay fairly warm and dry. This weekend we're supposed to have three days with highs in the 30s/40s and lows in the 20s. Brrr. I know I've been saying it a lot lately...but time to get this jalopy headed south!