While we don’t want to dissuade you from exploring the Aeternum continent in New World, for the purposes of crafting, it’s best to call one settlement home for a few reasons. First, you can keep all your crafting materials in the storage shed and grab items directly from the shed when you actually go to craft, freeing up your inventory to go out and collect more resources. Additionally, you can take advantage of several Territory Standing upgrade benefits, including faster gathering times and lower crafting fees.
As for the process of gathering items, if you have some coin weighing you down, you could buy some of the basic crafting materials directly from the Trading Post. Some of the costs are a little inflated since the game just launched (1.35 coins per single piece of timber on Valhalla, at time of writing), but these will likely go down over time as more listings are added. If you convince your Company to make you the lead Engineer, perhaps they can lend you some gold to get your skill level up quickly.
It’s unclear whether New World will receive a swimming animation in the future, but the existence of a breath meter may mean that the topic was at least discussed. If Amazon Game Studios decides to add a swimming animation, players may be able to use the breath meter to their advantage and swim to far destinations to complete their quests. After the developers patch out every minor error or bug they’ve run into during the release period, they should have more time to iron out the game’s finer details, which could include swimming.