"I think that a lot of people are judging me by the standards they have for their teens and other teens that they know and [are] thinking, 'She's exactly like them,' " the 16-year-old, who disappeared Thursday in the Indian Ocean but was rescued three days later, tells the Associated Press. "They don't understand that I've sailed my whole life and I do know what I'm doing out there."
Speaking by phone en route to Reunion Island near Madagascar, where she will meet her family in the next few days, Sunderland also answered critics who questioned how her parents could let a teenager sail around the world by herself.
"[It] can look pretty crazy. But the thing is, those people don't know me. And if they did, they wouldn't be criticizing my age," she said Tuesday.
Sunderland's hopes of successfully going around the world may be over – but only temporarily. The California teen, whose older brother Zac completed his own solo circumnavigation at age 17, says she still loves sailing and would like to kick off another voyage one day.
"The story of Wild Eyes is over," she wrote on her blog Sunday, "but my story is still going. On goes my adventure!"