Thanks for the feedback. I have had a couple reports about the AI fighting too much over sheep and I'm trying to look into it. A couple months ago we were getting reports of sheep no longer spawning and we determined that it was because the AI was ignoring them too much and so sheep were stockpiling in AI controlled areas. I made a few changes to allow the AI to go after sheep more aggressively and unfortunately I'm now getting the impression we may have over compensated.
Regarding your other issues, there is a limited range for which the AI will scan for scholars, princess, etc but due to processing limits it is simpler than the player's fog of war. Ironically, I think the other issue you mention about the boats turning back might be because the AI doesn't know the defences around the landing site and then changes its mind once it gets within view.