June 29, 2010 -- Teenage solo sailor Abby Sunderland said today that there will be no reality TV show or documentary about her failed attempt to become the youngest person ever to sail alone around the world, but she is considering writing a book.
Sunderland, 16, also said returning to normal life will be an adjustment after all those months spent alone on the high seas, and then weeks aboard the fishing boat that rescued her with sailors who didn't speak English.
"It's going to be kind of tough going back to high school and all that," she conceded during a news conference in Los Angeles today. "I am definitely going to get a drivers license."
Sunderland spoke just three weeks after being rescued from her dismasted boat "Wild Eyes" in the southern Indian Ocean.
Her trip triggered criticism that her parents allowed the teen to embark on such a perilous trip at that age, a notion that Sunderland rejected today.
"I've crossed two oceans and sailed around Cape Horn... The question of my age should have been settled weeks ago," she said.
Apparently as unfazed by the Los Angeles press corps as she was by ocean storms, Sunderland said any plans for a reality TV show had fallen through and there will be no documentary of her efforts.
"I am thinking of writing a book," she said. Sunderland said she kept a journal and had been "writing for me," and is considering "maybe make it into a book."
It would be an adventure survival story. Her boat survived a vicious storm with huge waves and wind gusts up to 60 knots, but as the storm began dying down, the boat was hit and flipped by a rogue wave, she said.
From inside the boat's cabin she waited to see how the ship would end up, but was tossed violently around.
"I hit my head kind of hard and went black for a second, but just a second," she said. The boat settled upright, but with its mast snapped off.
"I was glad I wasn't going to be stuck upside down," she said.
Sunderland said she immediately considered how to salvage her boat, hoping there was enough mast left to jury-rig something that would allow her to keep sailing.
"I got outside and there was just no mast there, just a one-inch stub," she said. "I could jury-rig a boom, but there was nothing to work with."
That, she knew, meant the end of her attempt to sail around the world.
Sunderland Found It Hard to Leave Her Crippled Boat
Even at that point, Sunderland dismissed suggestions that she should not have been allowed to undertake such a risky venture alone.
"There was never that point... I was prepared... I knew what to do," she said.
Sunderland admitted, however, that there were moments during her voyage when she felt fear.
"There were times when I was terrified... there were times I was scared, definitely," she said.
While waiting for her rescue, she cleaned her boat, although she knew it was pointless, "to keep my mind off things so I didn't get scared or depressed."
When a Qantas plane flew low over her to check on whether she was still alive, Sunderland was thrilled.
"It was disbelief and excitement to know they knew I was there and were looking for me," she said.
Before the trip came to an end, she described reading books and opening surprised packages that her mother had packed for her during the trip, like the "big green hat" and decorations for her boat on St. Patrick's Day.
She said that when a person is alone at sea for an extended period of time, such diversions are necessary "because you have to stay upbeat."
When the fishing boat finally reached her, Sunderland wasn't eager to leave her crippled vessel.
"I wasn't ready to leave. I wanted to stay with it a little longer," she said. "It was hard to step off... It was really sad to have lost her."