Historically, nautical stars related to navigation, so sailors and soldiers often got these tattoos for guidance and protection. Now, nautical stars have significance for the Irish, the gay and lesbian community, the punk rock community and the Russian mafia.
According to lovetoknow, nautical star tattoos are typically five pointed with two colors per point. The star generally corresponds to Polaris, the stationary star by which sailors navigated. The nautical star is similar to an old Pagan symbol, so for the Irish, it often signifies good health. Historically, the gay and lesbian community have used a small nautical star on the wrist as a symbol of their sexual preference. Used thus, it can be easily covered if need be. Sailor Jerry, a popular tattoo artist, popularized nautical star tattoos among punk rockers. Sailor Jerry is renowned for creating retro tattoos.
Star tattoos with the nautical coloring are also used in the Russian mafia. When they are tattooed on the knees, they signify that the wearer will bow down to no one. When a mafia member becomes a captain, he gets nautical stars tattooed onto his shoulders.
Sometimes, stars have more than five points. In these cases, they generally have religious significance. Six points relate to the Star of David, while eight points represent the San Juan cross. Nautical star tattoos can also be layered with other designs.