With the wind building to 35 knots in the evening, we changed down to our smallest kite, the storm spinnaker, which was constructed of sturdy, 1.5-ounce fabric. We thought we could carry it, but all agreed that if we broached, we'd immediately blow the halyard, bury the kite, and put up a jib. The boat was ripping along. For the next hour, we absolutely hauled the mail, blasting ahead at 12 to 14 knots through squalls and darkness. This was balls-to-the-wall sailing. Exhilarating. Difficult. The wind kept right on building, and we knew there'd be a wipeout if we didn't hustle and get the spinnaker down and the No. 3 jib up. Kabooom! Too late. We spun off into a wild broach and ran the kite halyard immediately. The boat bounced back up, and we scrambled to recover the chute and stuff it down the forward hatch. We were able to set and wing out the No. 3 off the spinnaker pole, with the wind now steady at 45 knots; we added a second reef in the main. By now, we were all wearing life jackets and safety harnesses. The spray and rain pelted us like bullets, and the shrieking of the wind was profoundly deafening. It was hard to see, hard even to look. You just had to pray that traffic wouldn't appear out of nowhere. Praying was appropriate, actually. Hell was breaking loose.