Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!
A lot of good information for you; some of the questions you are asking understandably jump from the basic to the more complex, and I though some basic ones may not have been addresed, so...
* When you are trying to sail close to where the wind is coming from (as you know you can't "point" directly at it), your jib and mainsail will be tight. Your boom will probably be in the middle of the boat. The travller helps you keep the boom close to the midline ("close hauled").
* When the wind is behind you, the jib and the main are loose, so the sails are spread out ("Running".
* When the wind is coming from the side, your jib and main are half way out ("reaching").
* In general, it is better to tack - that means turn through the wind. Gybing can be tricky for a beginner, because your boom swings from way out on one side to way out on the other. It can swing very fast unless carefully controlled, possibly injuring you or damaging your rig.
So next time you go out, gently steer closer to the wind, tightening up both jib and main. If the sails start flapping (even though you tightened them up), then you are pointing too close to the wind - so turn away from where the wind is coming from until the sails get tight again.
And if the wind gets too strong, letting the mainsail out tends to reduce the power...