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David Bill, M.M.A. ’97

Tied in Knots

When Capt. David Bill was a Boy Scout learning to tie knots, he never guessed that his new interest would someday take him to faraway places and lead to the creation of a unique pet toy company.

Bill, 51, a nautical science instructor at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass., has combined his passion for knot tying with his love for animals to create Island Time Pet Toys, an exclusive line of all natural, nautical themed playthings made from cotton rope and twine.

“I’ve pretty much been a water rat since I was a kid,” says Bill, who grew up on Long Island Sound. “My mom tells me that I would crawl down to the water’s edge and eat sand as an infant.”

Bill credits URI’s Master of Marine Affairs program with giving him a solid foundation for lifetime learning and an interest in maritime writing: “The graduate Marine Affairs curriculum was second to none. I especially appreciate the mentorship that the faculty offered, in particular my faculty advisor Bruce Marti.”

After receiving his M.M.A., Bill founded Island Time Sailing School, named after the Caribbean notion of letting things flow a natural course. His sidekick at the time was a sea-going yellow Lab named Ceilidh who loved to play with pieces of line taken from boats that Bill sailed.

“I took a look at the pet toy market and quickly found that most of the pet toys available are made overseas, and none of them are made with any care or with natural, quality materials,” Bill explains. “I thought it would be cool to use traditional rope to create nautical style dog toys.”

With encouragement from his daughter Tayler, Bill launched Island Time Pet Toys in 1999. The pet-loving entrepreneur has created five different nautical themed toys for dogs and two for cats, all made by hand. “It’s a cottage business; I’m someone who always likes to be productive,” he says.

For more information, visit To read Captain Bill’s sea stories, visit

—Brian Lowney

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