cutting his painter

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An expression meaning, in terms of a ship in harbour, making a clandestine departure, but also, in seaman's language, and in terms of an individual, departing this life. Ships' boats are secured alongside by means of their painters, and a silent or clandestine departure can only be made by cutting the painter and allowing the boat to drift silently away from the ship until it is out of earshot of those on board.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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