I have to agree, the water is too much of a safe zone currently - while it’s convenient (and I totally take advantage of it), it doesn’t really convey the primeval fear that (deep) water should. The dichotomy between “fear of the deep” and the life-sustaining nature of water is very interesting and could be used to more advantage in CE.
I have a feeling they probably wanted to do something like this because while I may be a fairly vocal critic of CE/Funcom at times, the atmosphere of the Exiled Lands is amazing, and they really nailed the feeling of primitive life (in the early game at least). But aquatic combat is so, so hard to get right and almost requires a game focused around it - which CE isn’t, and shouldn’t be, so I understand why they didn’t.
Same can be said for mounted combat - in the many, many games that have tried, very few have succeeded in creating anything satisfactory in this regard - perhaps only one have come close to getting it right: The “Mount and Blade” series.