I didn't consciously befriend any Ballphins but it's possible that they ate the meat dropped by their dead friends as I attacked the pod. This could theoretically mean that by the time I died we were friends and decided to save me? Hmm, okay - nice exploit that I've found then!
I have drowned twice during the new Shipwrecked Beta, once in an Encrusted Boat, once in a Cargo Boat. However, instead of dying and resurrecting at the touchstone I spawned to the nearest beach as if I had a life jacket on.