Nautical stars, especially as used in tattoos, are primarily associated with sailors and sailing, where the design represents the North Star, its use in navigation, and finding one's way home. Blue typically indicates the sea or sky, and is considered one of the more traditional colors for this symbol.
Defined Imagery, a professional photographic service, explains that the nautical star is frequently encountered as an informal signifier indicating membership in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. The symbol recalls both the five-pointed star of the US national flag and the distinctive, alternating-color pattern of the compass rose found on many old nautical charts.
Many nautical star tattoos do follow general color meanings, such as blue for water, red for passion or anger and green for creativity or nature. Red or green can also symbolize membership in the port or starboard watch. This reflects the red and green lights on each side ship to help signal its position and direction to other ships in the dark. Color means different things to different people, and the meaning of the color for a nautical star tattoo can be unique to the individual.
Today, nautical star tattoos are extremely popular and new meanings have evolved, according to the Tattoo Archive. For example, a contemporary wearer may place a nautical star tattoo on the left wrist as a positive guide for the future.