MARINA DEL REY, California -- Abby Sunderland said Tuesday she faced down moments of terror on the high seas when her boat was rolled over by a rogue wave as she tried to sail around the world.
Still, the 16-year-old was proud of her effort, hoped it might inspire others and wasn't ready to abandon sailing.
"The past few weeks have been really crazy for me," said Sunderland, who looked poised and comfortable as she sat next to her 18-year-old brother Zac at a news conference in Marina del Rey, where she set sail in January.
Sunderland flew back home Monday after being rescued from the Indian Ocean by a fishing boat. She was about halfway through her journey when a fierce storm battered her 40-foot boat Wild Eyes. A rogue wave capsized the boat and destroyed its mast.
"As you probably all really know, I'd much rather be sailing Wild Eyes back in here. But the plane was really comfortable," she deadpanned.
In her first statements since returning home, Sunderland said she was below deck working on her boat as the storm was letting up.
"The storm I was in did not roll my boat. I was hit by a rogue wave once the storm was already dying down," she said. "I didn't have a lot of warning."
Since her voyage went awry, Sunderland's parents have come under relentless criticism for allowing the teenager to set sail alone.
Sunderland once again defended her attempt, saying the question of her age should have been settled after she became the youngest person to sail solo around Cape Horn.
"Growing up on boats and feeling, you know, that you know what to do in case of an emergency, it really helps," she said. "I knew when I headed out for this trip that I was gonna be testing myself, and I was gonna have to push myself to my limits."
Sunderland acknowledged, however, there were moments when she was terrified.
"You get scared and then you have to get over it because being scared, it doesn't do anything good," she said. "It just makes you hesitate and makes more problems start coming."
Sunderland's mother is pregnant with her eighth child, and the sailor told reporters she might have a new little brother before the news conference ended.
Family spokesman Lyall Mercer said the baby would be named Paul in honor of the captain of the boat that rescued Sunderland.
Sunderland's parents were unable to attend the news conference because of the pregnancy. They issued a statement saying they have been subjected to intense personal criticism that has crossed the line of decency.
"To hear the intensity of the personal hatred spewed by some in the media and on blogs was shocking to us," Laurence Sunderland said in the statement. "Abby should not be subjected to these hurtful attacks against members of her family, especially as what was being said was based, at best, on twisting facts out of context and, at worst, on total fabricated lies."
The statement added, however, that the family was willing to forgive critics who don't know their family or understand the experience and ambition of the two siblings.
Zac Sunderland, 18, successfully completed a round-the-world voyage last year, briefly becoming the youngest person to do so. His record has since been broken.
Abby Sunderland said she was as prepared as possible for the trip. Every sailor knows there is risk in trying to sail around the world, she added.
She said she wasn't "majorly hurt" when the rogue wave hit, but her boat was.
She set off her emergency beacons and waited. She was amazed when a plane dispatched from Australia to find her flew overhead the next day. Two days later the fishing boat arrived.
Sunderland thanked her rescuers and other people who helped with her trip. She singled out her brother as someone who had helped inspire her.
"I'm living proof that things don't always work out the way you plan, but you can only plan so far in an adventure," she said. "You can reduce risk but you can never completely eliminate it."
Sunderland plans to keep sailing but for now has other things to do.
"I'm just gonna be focusing on school, a driver's license, all that, getting back to a normal life," she said.