The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Nancy Erickson
For The LOG 

Boy's dream of catching Alaska salmon comes true


Patty Bacon

Natie Dumont remains cool and calm as his fishing rod bends under the strain of a fish that would much rather stay below the surface.

Who would have guessed cupcakes can make wishes come true?

Just ask a little boy from South Africa.

Nathan Dumont was only four-years-old when he saw a documentary about salmon fishing in Alaska and said, “I want to go there. I want to go there,” recalled his mother Sally Dumont.

“And it just didn’t stop,” she said last month, standing on the docks in Seward watching her seven-year-old son anxiously waiting as crew from Puffin Fishing Charters unloaded their catch.

“Every time we talked about who is going where, it was always Natie is going to Alaska,” his mother said of attempts at family vacation planning. “So one day I said, ‘If you really want to go there so bad you need to start saving for a ticket.’ I really didn’t mean it, in all honesty,” she laughs.

Natie’s mother was soon to learn just how determined her little boy was after she informed him that if he paid for his ticket, he could choose either mommy or daddy to take him to Alaska.

A slight, soft-spoken child, Natie learned to cast at the age of three in waters off the coast of their home in Gansbaai, South Africa, a fishing town and popular tourist destination known for its dense population of Great White Sharks.

But how could a six-year-old earn the 1,200 Rand equivalent to $1,200 in American money for a ticket to Alaska?

Neither Natie nor his mother could recall how selling cupcakes and candy apples became the answer to his quest, but it worked.

The mother/son duo whipped up batch after batch of homemade cupcakes, candy apples and jam in the kitchen on their farm while his younger siblings watched.

Natie would set up a little sales stand displaying his goodies at the local village pub and restaurant every Thursday for family fish and chips night, grinning ear-to-ear as he listened to the clinking of coins dropping into his tin money box with a slot on top. He also became a familiar sight at the Saturday market and any other hot spot.

But after thousands of cupcakes, tasting wasn’t even an option for the little entrepreneur.

The Dumont family has close friends who are vegetarians and one day Natie asked his mother what he would be called since he doesn’t eat cupcakes.

Heading for heartbreak

What began as an exciting adventure after boarding the plane to Alaska Aug. 23 seemed headed for heartbreak when Natie and his mother fell ill shortly after arriving in Seward.

Sally Dumont headed straight to their room at Steller Bed and Breakfast off Old Exit Glacier Road, but not Natie. More than he could ever imagine – the bed and breakfast borders a salmon stream!

“As soon as he got out of the car, shoes and socks came off and in the creek with the salmon,” said owner/operator Patty Bacon. “He couldn’t believe there was salmon in a creek.”

Natie was able to sneak up on a slow-moving foot-long salmon and gently touch it, said Bacon. That’s when his shy grin appeared revealing a space that would soon be filled with two permanent teeth. But soon a churning stomach sent him beating feet for their room, where mother and son remained in bed the whole day they were scheduled to go on the long awaited fishing charter.

Feeling better the following day, the Dumonts boarded a Major Marine Tours vessel for a six-hour tour to Aialik Glacier, anxiously looking forward to their rescheduled trip on Puffin Charters the next day.

“He was out of his mind with excitement,” Bacon said of Natie, as his mother tried to get her son to sleep the night before the fishing trip. Sally’s still queasy stomach told her a small fishing boat would not be a good idea, so at 6:15 a.m. the next morning, Natie and “Aunt Patty” were heading for the fishing grounds in Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.

Armed with his new fishing rod, Natie was ready for whatever came his way. His lucky rod stayed behind in South Africa.

Ready to hang your fish?

Back at the dock in Seward after a long day of fishing, I spoke briefly with Natie before he posed for pictures with his catch.

Why did you come to Alaska, I questioned. “To catch a salmon and to go mushing,” he quietly replied with his head tilted downward.

Do you fish at home? “Ya,” was the soft response.

Do you have your own pole? “It’s a rod, not a pole,” he corrected me.

And you sold thousands of cupcakes for your plane ticket? “Ya,” he answered.

And you helped make them and measured all the ingredients? “Ya,” he said.

Are you going to keep doing that when you get home? “No,” he answered in a flash without pausing for consideration.

Natie was the only one of six people to catch a salmon that day – thanks to those lucky cupcakes.

Nancy Erickson is a freelance writer living in Seward.


Reader Comments

1841 writes:

Thanks Alaska for making Natie's dreams come true, he had a wonderful time and we all loved seeing that permanent smile on his face while in Alaska. Natie is sentiment to the phrase, if you put your mind to something and never give up, your dreams will come true! Love Linda Dumont (Aunt)


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