Capt. Bill’s BIO

‘The Nautical Prepper’ is authored by Capt. William E. Simpson II a U.S. Merchant MarineUS_Merchant_Marine Officer with decades of boating and expedition sailing experience, who has successfully survived long-term off the grid at remote uninhabited desert islands with his family using sailboats that he equipped for that purpose. Capt. Bill holds a U.S.C.G. 500-ton captain’s license for commercial inspected passenger vessels, including, power, sail and assistance towing vessels. He is also a certified PADI DiveMaster with has made hundreds of dives both day and night.

Born in Los Angeles during the 1950’s Cold War Era, Capt. Simpson was influenced at an early age by the prospects of nuclear war. Growing up and through his early adulthood, he was tutored and trained by his father (U.S. Army 82nd Airborne & L.A.P.D.), who was highly experienced in warfare and survival. Capt. Simpson is an avid inventor and in addition to his wide array of industrial arts skills, he is an instrument rated commercial airplane and helicopter pilot and PADI certified DiveMaster.

More about Capt. Bill’s life experience…

As a young boy, Bill participated in Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts, which provided him with his initial survival skills. Bill attended elementary and junior-high school in Los Angeles (late 1950′s through mid-60′s) at a time when the aerospace and defense industries were pouring money into the L.A. school systems as a means of developing the next generation of skilled workers and scientists for their industries. Taking advantage of some of the best classrooms and teachers in the nation during that period, Bill studied all forms industrial arts including; Mechanical Drawing, Art & Design, Metal Shop, Wood Shop, Foundry, Print Shop, Electronics and Welding. During his time off from school Bill spent a lot of time fishing with his father and hiking in the Sierra Mountains east of Pasadena, California collecting rocks and reptiles. Bill’s father started training him in weapons, tactics and hand-to-hand combat from the time he was 8, and that training was augmented through regular Jujitsu lessons by a local master in the art.

USCG_AuxilaryLater, when he was 15, his family moved to a 100-acre ranch in the mountains of Southern Oregon above the Applegate Valley, where he learned all the trade skills that were required on a working ranch. Among many activities, the family periodically logged timber off their lands and the wood was used for many purposes. Larger trees were milled into lumber for building and repairs, while smaller trees were peeled, dried and soaked in creosote for fence posts. Nothing was wasted and all the by-products from the process were used as fuel in heating and cooking stoves. The ranch had been run-down and the first monumental order of work was to improve the property, buildings and bring everything back into working condition. Additionally, Bill had to learn and hone all of the skills related to animal production (raising cattle, pigs, chickens, and sheep), working horses and building and repairing farm equipment and machinery. One summer in 1970, Bill set-off alone on a mini-expedition into the wilderness area on the Rogue River for two weeks, and using some very basic tools and his survival skills, he constructed and setup a shelter on a small forested island of land in the River, where he hunted, fished and scavenged for crayfish, plants and berries.

During his time on the ranch, Bill was a member of the Future Farmers of America and his first successful FFA project was based on farming trout and the development of a natural spring and the excavation of a one-acre pond on the ranch using a D-4 CAT. The aggregate of skills that Bill had learned to that point allowed him to start work as an apprentice millwright at Southern Oregon Plywood during the summers, where he further developed and honed his skills repairing all sorts of heavy equipment and machinery at the mill under the tutelage of master millwrights.

In High School, Bill continued his studies of industrial arts, math and science, including passing an Federal Aviation Administration approved ground school for airplanes.

SRI_International Bill attended Oregon State University in the early seventies as a Science Major, with the intention of becoming a surgeon. He also enjoyed competing for the OSU varsity Judo Team. Bill spent two summers’ commercial salmon fishing off the unforgiving Oregon Coast using two boats that he had to rebuild for that purpose. During his time at Oregon State University, Bill met his best friend and wife, Laura.


In 1974 Bill and Laura moved back to Southern Oregon, where Bill concurrently engagedSowell_Aviation into several entrepreneurial enterprises, some of which were based on his ideas and inventions, one of which was commercially successful, a product for commercial fishermen known as the ‘Electro-Catch’. The Electro-Catch was an electrical device used by some commercial fishing boats that helped increase catch rates. In 1977, Bill completed his basic flight training earning his FAA Private Pilot’s license. Bill also obtained a Federal Firearms License and dealt in all types of rifles and handguns, expanding his knowledge of weapons and ballistics. Bill remained engaged in martial-arts and continued his martial arts training by teaching evening martial arts class and competing in local tournaments.

CaptBill1979In 1978, Bill was offered an opportunity to work in Brazil, and during his first trip into the northern areas of Brazil he was exposed to the gemstone mining operations there. As an offshoot of that initial opportunity he started traveling to the mountain areas of Brazil where he bought gemstones which he exported from Brazil into the U.S. for the wholesale jewelry trades. This enterprise allowed Bill to continue his advanced flight training and obtain his commercial pilots license, as well as purchasing a twin-engine private airplane, which he used to travel around the West Coast of the U.S. in order to distribute gemstones to wholesalers and retail jewelry stores.

In 1981, Bill switched gears and went back into the fishing business, this time in Hawaii, conducting both commercial fishing and sport fishing operations while attending classes at Lyman_Housethe Pacific Maritime Academy, eventually earning a USCG captains license in 1985. In 1983, seeing yet another tourist charter opportunity in Hawaii, Bill went back to school and earned an Associate of Science degree in Flight Technology, concurrently training and earning his commercial helicopter pilot’s license for turbine powered helicopters. With these new credentials he formed and operated a charter aviation operation serving the island tourist trades. Then in 1984, he opened a jewelry store in Maui and started traveling to Thailand several times a year to acquire gemstones for his retail store, as well as supplying many other retail jewelry stores, including Ben Bridge Jewelers. Bill also served the Lyman Museum as an acquisitions agent procuring several rare gemstones for their world-class collection.

USCG_rescueDuring this same period, Bill taught Consumer Gemology at the University of Hawaii’s Maui Campus. Utilizing the discipline of ‘sweat-equity’, Bill was able  to develop the capital asset needed for another tourist business; he bought and personally rebuilt a 52-foot fiberglass trimaran, which he used for diving and sailing charter work around the Hawaiian Islands. In 1987, Bill received a commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard for his assistance in a U.S.C.G. search and rescue operation that saved the lives of two sailors lost overboard at sea off the Hawaiian Islands. In 1989, Bill served as a consultant for Tom Gentry on the American Eagle race-boat project, and in the process had the opportunity to work with Ron Jones (designer/builder of the Miss Budweiser and Miss Circus Circus) on turbine boat designs using advanced carbon-fiber materials.

In 1990 Bill relocated his family (wife, son and daughter) back to the Oregon Coast where he acquired a 57-foot fiberglass sailboat that had been seized by the DEA and was sold as salvage due to extensive damage caused by the DEA cutting the boat apart in search of hidden drugs. Bill spent more than a year personally redesigning, rebuilding and installing systems for the purpose of making the vessel into a totally self-sufficient, long-term, all weather sailing platform capable of sustaining a family of four persons for multiple years in remote locations. Upon the completion of that project in 1991, Bill and his family (wife, son, daughter and 2 dogs) sailed that vessel thousands of miles over several years (1991-1994) visiting many remote locations, including spending a year living at the remote uninhabited islands in the Sea of Cortez. Bill and his family lived off the land and sea using the skills they developed and the many systems he designed and installed on that boat to successfully remain self-sufficient, including the production of thousands of gallons of pure drinking water from sea-water.

Upon returning to the U.S. with his family, Bill was offered a position as the captain of a U.S. based medical missionary boat that served the people of Marshall Islands. During a period of approximately two-years, Bill worked on-site and onboard the mission’s vessel, a 71-foot aluminum Loc Crowther catamaran. That vessel required an extensive refit as well as many systems and equipment updates, redesigns and installations, which Bill personally provided. He also trained numerous crew and then sailed the vessel thousands of miles in service of the mission.

During the second-half of the 1990′s, Bill’s interests turned towards the Internet and he developed and was subsequently was awarded a U.S. Patent for greeting cards that could be personalized using the Internet. After the dot-bomb went-off in April of 2000, Bill turned his attention back towards the sea and boats, hoping to find a ship capable of offshore travel, which might be used for a family-operated charter research boat. In 2002, Bill in fact found a unique 70-foot sailing vessel, which required extensive remodeling in order to meet Bill’s standards. However, once the vessel was completed in early 2005, the primary research client was no longer interested, so Bill turned his attentions back to eCommerce for a couple years, until late 2007. The fall of Wall Street in late 2007 had its impact on many people, including Bill, which saw him closing down that enterprise.

In 2008, Bill and his wife Laura headed to sea on an expedition that lasted until the later part of 2011, using the 70-foot sailboat that Bill had previously re-built. During that voyage, they spent two years in the Sea of Cortez. It was during this second sailing expedition that Bill was able to again re-test many of his ideas, systems, equipment and methods that he had tested on the earlier expedition in 1991, and in the process, gained extensive product knowledge and perfected many ideas. It was during this multi-year 12,000-mile expedition that Bill also spent a lot of time helping other long-range sailors by repairing the systems and equipment failures on their vessels. In the process of repairing dozens of failed systems and pieces of equipment, Bill’s understanding of equipment failure analysis grew.

During that same time period, Bill & Laura engaged in a daring rescue operation at-sea during a gale in the Sea of Cortez, which involved a fellow American boater who was lost overboard from another boat at sea in the storm. In the process of that rescue, Bill & Laura tested themselves, the vessel under their command (the Iron Maiden) and its systems under severe conditions. While in the Sea of Cortez on this second expedition, Bill started writing and some of his articles were published in several magazines in the U.S., including one in England. One of these many articles was the recounting of that rescue operation in the Sea of Cortez.

Capping off the expedition, Bill and Laura made a voyage that few sailors will attempt; a mid-winter passage (January 2012) north up the West Coast of the U.S. from LA to Portland, OR, enduring 2 gales and a storm, where they faced winds up to 80 knots with snow at one point, before entering the protected waters of the Columbia River. The completion of voyage was marked by navigating 70 miles of the Columbia River from Astoria to Portland, OR.

The vessel that Bill had re-built (Iron Maiden) had proven herself to be very seaworthy. Later that same year, Bill was approached by the producers of National Geographic’s hit TV show DoomsDay Preppers and invited to film an episode with them, which they did (National Geographic DoomsDay Preppers season (2) episode (15) ‘A Fortress At Sea’).

The production of the episode was very complex as a result of having to film underway and from multiple support vessels from many perspectives on and off the ship. In addition to appearing in the episode, Capt. Bill was the maritime coordinator on-set and oversaw the planning, operations and execution of the close-quarters maneuvering of his 100-ton ship in conjunction with a mock pirate attack and a stunt, where the ship rammed a mock pirate vessel. For these and other contributions to the production of that episode, Capt. Bill was acknowledged as an ‘Associate Producer’ in the onscreen credits for the episode. Additionally, Capt. Bill and his team were awarded the highest Prepper score ever given in the history of the series (seasons 1 & 2) and Capt. Bill was deemed the ‘Best Prepper’ by National Geographic Doomsday Preppers (

Concurrent with the production of that TV show in October 2012, Capt. Bill decided to try writing a book about expedition sailing, which later morphed into a book about using vessels in various disaster preparedness scenarios, titled ‘ The Nautical Prepper’. The direction and original title of his book changed somewhat as Bill was exposed to the recent Prepper trend and his realization that many Preppers today require and use many of the same ‘preps’ and equipment that are part of the normal daily operational equipment, systems and methods used onboard many expedition vessels. Though a stroke of luck, Bill’s sample chapter was of interest to a leading publisher (Ulysses Press) and they ultimately signed a book deal with Bill. Bill completed his draft manuscript for ‘The Nautical Prepper‘ in mid-December 2012; the book was released in September 2013 and is available at most retail booksellers. Bill then began work on a second book that is currently titled ‘Bunker Diaries‘, which he hopes to complete by early summer 2014.