We have put this project off for as long as we possibly can. There was just no good place to put our life raft. We didn't want to give up all of the lovely real estate on the veranda by plopping this giant metal cradle with a big white box in it... But, we had no choice. We bought the thing, we need to mount it somewhere. I guess to complain that we have TOO many opening hatches on our deck to find a spot would be an insult to those who don't, so we finally ran out of time and excuses... we had to pick a spot to drill holes in our boat.
We had to find a way to mount the cradle that would give it adequate support and structure so if a wave hit, it would have a chance of staying put. Bruce and I discussed the proper mounting method for weeks. I googled it and found that it could be mounted without going all the way through the cabin top, but in the end, Bruce won the discussion and we proceeded with his plan. (don't let him tell you he never gets his way...)
He drilled through the feet so that the holes would be as nearly perfectly placed as possible. We weren't entirely sure that the feet were identical. Then he removed the cradle and drilled each hole again, with a larger sized bit to make oversized holes.
We didn't want the inside holes drilled yet because we planned to fill the holes with epoxy and didn't want it coming in. It needed to create an epoxy plug through which we would drill the smaller holes for the bolts to go through. This would keep any moisture that would possibly seep into the bolt holes from reaching the balsa core.
We made an emergency phone call to a friend who is both a sailboat owner and an engineer... He advised that it would be fine if we used a thickened epoxy such as West Systems Six-10 to fill the holes and make an expanded glob inside the airspace. Luckily we were able to find some, but not enough. We postponed our project until the next day.
While Bruce cleaned up for the evening, I got to work making the rubber pads for the cradle feet. We needed something to even out the space between the squared off feet and the slight curve of the deck. We had a partial rubber sheet that worked nicely. I cut the round foot pads, eight of them (two for each foot) so that there would be plenty of thickness to work with. They came out very nicely if I do say so...
Once Bruce was done with that, we went below to make sure that our nickel plug was holding. We could feel the heat from the epoxy on the ceiling and we knew we had found success! All we had to do was wait the 24 hours for curing and we would be ready for the next step. Re-drilling the holes through the epoxy...