to pay off

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1 A sailing vessel's head pays off when it falls further away from the direction of the wind and therefore drops to leeward. It is a term used particularly in relation to tacking.

2 To close the accounts of a naval ship when she reached the end of a commission—when the crew received any pay owing to them—or, in the case of a merchant ship, to close the accounts at the end of a voyage. In naval ships a paying offpennant is flown.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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