In normal civ 3 the galley is the first ship a player can build, but they are endangered to sink when ending their movement on a sea- or ocean terrain tile. When a player does a move with that ship ending on sea- or ocean terrain, it is on a "suicide mission", as it can sink in this case - but if it survives, there is the chance of an early contact with other civs.
CCM 2.50 holds much, much more ships than standard C3C. When playing the US, your first ship will be the scout ship. In CCM 2.50 the handling of units is much more tactical compared to standard C3C, as the movement costs for units are much higher (mostly doubled) in combination with movement bonuses for different units on different terrains. For early ships this means, that your scout ships can move normally on coastal terrain (as they here have a movement bonus) but are slowed down on sea- or ocean terrain.
With tech Seafaring, you will have access to merchantships, which also can sink on sea- and ocean terrain, but can move normally on coastal- and sea terrain. There are civs which have better boats even in era1, per example the longboats for Scandinavia (Vikings) or the hokuleas for Australia/Oceania, which are only sinking when ending on a ocean tile.
The best ships in that era are the ancient (and later medieval) explorer ships, autoproduced by the SW School of Navigators. These ships are intended to find the contact to other civs and to withstand some battles with barbarian ships. CCM 2.50 has no contact and map trading, as this in my eyes dims down the fun in exploring the world and the multitude of unnecessary map trading popup messages in the later phases of the game in my eyes are somewhat annoying.
As capitals can trade directly in CCM 2.50 (the palace - see the symbol of coins next to Washington - and additionally some SWs are holding the airtrade-flag) and harbors, different to CCM1, have the water trade flag, trade could be somewhat more easy compared to standard C3C. A big advantage for beginners could be, that on your island you will not run in early confrontations with enslavers (autoproduced invisible HN units), as dealing with them needs some experience in using the advantages of the map and the movement handicaps of the enslavers.
Astonishingly, we never made games on Archipelago maps, but nearly every time on Continent maps with big land masses or Pangaea maps, to meet the demanding early combat with the invisible HN units of other civs (enslavers, later holy men and lawyers).
I would say, continue your game and even post a save file of your current game.