It's the mainsail that drove you to windward in the gusts, so a second reef would have helped. Without employing the second reef, you should have been able to sail on a broad reach with a jib alone, (assuming that would be enough to drive you up river against the current. ) If the gusts were coming from a different direction, there's just not much you can do if you have to maintain course to stay in a narrow channel or a river, you have to get the boat under control. It sounds like you did the right thing for that day.
I'm not familiar with the gooseneck set-up on your boat, so I'm not clear on why you need another mast gate to take in a 2nd reef if you have the cringles.
Do you have hooks on your gooseneck and reefing earings in your tack cringles?