Used as much for transport as for exploration, for war as for communications, boats marked the 17th and 18th centuries. They played a key role in the Grand Dérangement. Without them, the British surely could not have systematically deported around 10,000 Acadians. On the other hand, boats were also used by some Acadians to escape the Deportation or to return to Acadie after 1763. Many of the boats used during the Deportation were merchant ships rented to a New England company and modified for the operation. The New England captains often overloaded their vessels, as they were paid according to the number of deportees who arrived at their destination. The passengers often suffered from malnutrition and from being kept in very dark, damp and tight spaces. Indeed, epidemics and deaths were a common occurrence, especially as many boats did not even have a surgeon on board.