The nautical star tattoo is the most masculine design amongst star tattoos. Nautical star tattoos are considered old school. In the early days of tattooing, they used to be popular amongst sailors, who had them for guidance and protection. Sailor Jerry is a famous tattoo artist from those days.
The nautical star is a 5-pointed star, the points are split in half and filled with an alternating color (usually black-red or black-white), creating a 3d illusion.
Sailors used stars and the North Star (aka Polaris) for navigation, so it's not hard to see why so many of them have star tattoos. They function as a guide to get them back home safely. Soldiers have them for the same reason. Swallow tattoos also have a similar kind of nautical history.
Also today, people have star tattoos for similar reasons, you can rely on them when you are lost in your life, they are a light in the darkness.
In Ireland the nautical star is a symbol for good health, it's an old Pagan symbol you can find in certain Irish hospitals.
The nautical star tattoo has a special meaning in the gay and lesbian community. Some gay and lesbian people have a nautical star tattooed on their wrist as a sign of their disposition. The wrist is a place that can easily be covered by wearing a watch or a bracelet. Curiously, many celebrities have a star tattoo on their wrist (see further).