We know your feelings about your lost family member
Your post could just as easily been written by us.
We had a Snowshoe Siamese who was the best cat we ever had.
He was a great sailor, but we lost him to kidney failure at age 12.
After a couple of years, we have another Snowshoe, but he isn't much of a boat cat.
Recently, we were rafted to a friend's boat in a perfectly calm anchorage. The cat was roaming around the boats after dark, the hatches were open as it was a warm night. Everyone had gone to bed
when our friends heard a long scratch and a splash.
We didn't hear a thing, but were woken up by lots of loud panicked conversation so we quickly went topside.
Our "Frankie" (blue eyes) was swimming around and around the ama on the rafted side and was tiring very quickly.
As he passed me the second time around, I managed to reach him from the trampoline (just barely).
The water in the PNW is under 50 degrees f. so he wouldn't have lasted much longer.
We wrapped him in a towel, warmed him up and dried him off, but he was very still for a long time.
Lesson learned. We won't allow our kitty out at night unless we're there with them, and we're going to make some kind of boarding device. A piece of carpet at the very least.
such as yours are indeed family, and will never be forgotten.