The word "way" is the old way of saying "wake" so making way is to make a wake. In other words, to move forward. Where a ship points when its making way is its heading but it does not mean that that is where it is going because the tide is pushing it sideways. The difference between where a ship is pointing and where it is going is its headway. It is the other end of the ship to where you would find the leeway; the stern.
By SailingQuiz October 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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What is the nautical origin of the phrase "Headway"?
Definition of the nautical phrase "Headway".